Not that you have anywhere to be these days, but McDonald’s has cut its average drive-thru wait time by 25 seconds during the COVID-19 pandemic.
McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski delivered the news at the Evercore ISI Virtual Consumer & Retail Summit on Tuesday.
The fast-food chain has removed certain items from its menu, such as all-day breakfast, during the pandemic, which has helped speed up its drive-thrus, Ad Age reported.
McDonald’s drive-thrus also benefited from closed dine-in areas, which have allowed McDonald’s staff to focus entirely on drive-thru customers. Most fast-food chains closed its dining rooms in mid-March, and are now beginning to reopen them. At McDonald’s, approximately 1,000 U.S. locations have started to offer a dine-in option, MarketWatch reported.
In its Tuesday presentation, McDonald’s said sales at its U.S. locations fell 5.1% in May — a less drastic dip than the company experienced in April, when sales declined 19.2%.
Some of this decline is attributed to decreased breakfast sales, which McDonald’s has typically relied on more heavily than other fast food chains.
MarketWatch referenced a statement by analysts at the corporate/investment bank SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, which stated, “McDonald’s has the disadvantage of a high breakfast mix (~25-30% of sales pre-COVID vs. 13-14% at Burger King and ~20% at Jack in the Box), which is currently the weakest daypart in the industry (aside from late night), due to fewer commuters.”
The speedier drive-thrus at McDonald’s aren’t just because of COVID-19, though. Since last year, the company has invested considerable resources into improving its drive-thru wait times. In October 2019, Business Insider reported McDonald’s had cut its drive-thru times by 20 seconds over the previous quarter.
For McDonald’s, this is a major reversal: The average drive-thru time at McDonald’s in 2019 was 284 — nearly five minutes — an 11-second increase from 2018, according to QSR Magazine’s annual Drive-Thru Performance Study. (In the study, only Chick-Fil-A had a longer wait time.)