Despite being closed on Sundays and fueling an gay marriage controversy in the summer of 2012, Chick-Fil-A is now the leading fast food chicken chain. While it's hard to imagine any other chicken chain surpassing KFC, Chick-Fil-A did just that with $5 billion in sales last year.
Chick-Fil-A has more than 1,700 restaurants in the United States, compared to KFC's 4000-plus restaurants in the U.S. Despite having less than half of the restaurants as their competitor, Chick-Fil-A had more than $5 billion in sales, compared to the $4.22 billion in sales at KFC's U.S. locations.
Here is a graph of Chick-Fil-A's sales versus KFC's. As you'll notice, each Chick-Fil-A location brings in about three times as much in sales on average compared to a KFC location, a figure that has been on the rise over the past decade.
— Vineet Vashishta (@v_vashishta) March 29, 2014
Not only is Chick-Fil-A closed one day per week and has less than half as many locations, there is also the matter of Chick-Fil-A being more of a regional chain. True, Chick-Fil-A has locations in most states, but after you venture outside of the South and Texas, there are a lot of miles to travel between the other locations. For example, the chicken chain has only one location in New York and just a handful of stores in several other states. Compare this to KFC, a worldwide chain that has a strong presence in all 50 states, and it's easy to see why Chick-Fil-A being crowned the new fast food chicken champ is a bit of a surprise.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, part of the key to Chick-Fil-A's success is offering a breakfast menu.
With sales from Chick-Fil-A's breakfast menu steadily growing, this helps offset sales lost on the day the chain is closed. Even though KFC has great biscuits (arguably better than Chick-Fil-A's) and gravy to boot, the chain hasn't yet started offering breakfast nationwide. Maybe KFC will take a note from Taco Bell and get on the fast food breakfast bandwagon soon.
Another important point to consider is the cost of a menu item on Chick-Fil-A's menu versus KFC's. Unlike Chick-Fil-A, KFC makes it very easy for a person to walk out spending less than $5. You can purchase a value meal or individual items off KFC's value menu and get a meal for about the cost of a basic Chick-Fil-A sandwich. Even though consumers are thriftier these days, since fast casual dining is on the rise (a category Chck-Fil-A falls more into since the atmosphere is much nicer and many locations offer table service), it makes sense that people don't have an issue with paying more at Chick-Fil-A.
As Chick-Fil-A's saying goes, they didn't invent chicken, but they are sure selling the heck out of it.
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