The drive-thru proved the great restaurant separator during COVID-19. Drive-thru visits increased 26 percent in the April, May, and June quarter of 2020 and represented 42 percent of all industry traffic, according to The NPD Group. It was a remarkable surge, but a sign of the times America’s biggest restaurant players had to respond to.
To say they met the challenge would be a vast understatement. Everything from AI to conveyor belts to drive-thru-only prototypes sprung up out of the pandemic climate.
In this year’s QSR magazine Drive-Thru Study, we took a look at how operators navigated shifts in consumer behavior brought forth by COVID, positioned for the “next normal,” what it means for the environment, and how the best brands emerged from the pack. The underlying point—speed is not the straightforward metric it once was. You might even ask, does speed of service matter anymore? The truth is, it’s a complicated answer, and the key to everything moving forward.
Click the links in the chart to explore this year’s study, starting with how the future of drive-thru has already arrived.