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McDonald's, Burger King and other fast food giants see a 52% decline in foot traffic in December: RPT

It's been a tough year for the restaurant industry including many fast food giants like McDonald's, Burger King and Pizza Hut. According to Gravy Analytics, foot traffic throughout the overall fast food fast category dropped more than 50% as of December 8th, compared to February 2020. Yahoo Finance's Brooke DiPalma shares the details with Adam Shapiro and Julia La Roche. DiPalma also weighs in on the rise of charcuterie boards.

Video Transcript

ADAM SHAPIRO: It's Christmas Eve. And a lot of people are going to be feasting. But fast food restaurants continue to take a hit as cases of COVID-19 see another uptick. And less people seem to be heading out to dine. Brooke DiPalma is here with the details. I just want to say, for the record, we sat out in the cold last night. Because we have a favorite restaurant. We want to make sure they stay in business. But everyone's taking a hit, aren't they?

BROOKE DIPALMA: That's right, Adam. The entire restaurant industry certainly taking a hit. And local restaurants certainly love your support. But fast food giants, like McDonald's, Burger King's, Popeye's, all these restaurant brands that we all know and love are also feeling this hit. And according to Gravy Analytics, as of December 8, foot traffic since February of 2020 has dropped more than 50%.

Now this decline in foot traffic is quite similar to what we saw at the height of the pandemic back in April. And despite over the summer months, we saw a bit of relief as, you know, cases began to tick down. As we head right back into the fall, we saw those similar trends. But it's not an entirely poor outlook for, particularly, these quick service restaurants. Like Chipotle and Dunkin' and Starbucks heading into 2021.

There is some optimism there. Now according to Placer.AI, that's another data intelligence platform, there's a few key trends that we want to look out for. That's drive-through, delivery, and digital innovation. Earlier this week, we spoke to Restaurant Brands International CEO. And he said that, in particular, this was an important moment for the fast food category overall.

At Starbucks, we saw them doing further innovation, you know, testing and looking towards AI in order to customize that experience for the consumer after, you know, they're not heading inside anymore. And in addition to that, an important moment for McDonald's, drive-through spiking in the second quarter, making way into the third quarter staying at those high levels as consumers look for other way to get that fast food fix.

JULIA LA ROCHE: You know, Brooke, it's interesting that you just brought up the technology in the drive-through. Certainly areas that have been boding quite well during the pandemic. I want to talk about another trend that you spotted. And you told me about this is-- and I've definitely noticed it ever since-- is this kind of a proliferation of charcuterie boards. I'm seeing them everywhere on social media. What's going on, and what's driving that?

BROOKE DIPALMA: You know it really started as a viral trend. But charcuterie actually originated with cured meats. But we've seen it on social media through candy and cheeses, as well as breakfast charcuterie boards. But specifically even big name brands are taking note of this, Hormel Foods, Columbus Kraft Meats made a charcuterie village.

In addition to that, Amazon Whole Foods taking note of this by returning their 12 days of cheeses earlier this December in order to provide consumers with those cheeses for those homemade charcuterie boards. But in addition to that, something even more important, they're helping local businesses. I spoke to one cheese shop on the East Coast, that's Babylon Cheese Seller. They're saying it's been a blessing.

And they see a demand hike in each consecutive year. And one on the West Coast, LC Cheese Shop, and they said they've been sold out every day since February, sometimes even weeks in advance. So certainly a viral trend to keep a close eye on.