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Is the Recession Affecting Our Fast Food Habit?

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 26 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Fast Food Mcdonalds Kfc Domino Recession

The news throughout 2008 and into 2009 has been relentlessly depressing – we are all tightening our belts as a recession starts to bite, and you would have thought that it would be life’s little indulgences such as a take away that might be hit the hardest by fears of an imminent financial meltdown. With television chefs exhorting us to make do, recycle our leftovers and cook fresh, fast food would seem to be one of the things we are all cutting down on, wouldn’t it?

Actually, that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. As the recession starts to take effect on our bank balances, fast food is undergoing a renaissance with offers of cheap, filling food attracting people through the doors with the possibility of a meal for four for under £10 being the main motivator.

New Openings in Fast Food

In a time when many chains are losing staff and closing branches, fast food giants like McDonald's, KFC, Domino's and Subway have been happily announcing their plans to open more branches. It seems business is booming in the fast food trade.

In 2009, there are plans for around 1000 more McDonald's fast food restaurants, 20 of which will be in the recession weary UK. McDonalds plans to create 4,000 jobs in Britain, as well as refurbishing the tired looking stores, in which it is investing around £37million.

KFC, not wanting to be outdone, have just revealed their plans for a £150million expansion plan that will create another 300 outlets and 9,000 jobs. KFC results for 2008 were up six per cent in 2008, while results for 2009 have indicated a rise in profits of an impressive 14 per cent.

At the same time, Domino's Pizza has happily reported that it has beaten its profit predictions by 25 per cent and will be opening 50 new outlets and creating 1,500 new jobs in 2009.

Eating In is the New Eating Out

Restaurants are having great difficulty in the current climate, with people finding it harder to justify taking the family out to eat. There are talks of job losses in restaurant trade – but not, it would seem, in the fast food sector.

Domino's have reported that new customers are on the rise, and that a third of the 2.7 million households that it delivered food to during the first six weeks of 2009 were new customers, and that they were even spending more money on fast food than their regular clientele!

Georgina Wald, from Dominos HQ in Milton Keynes, attributed this phenomenon to the fact that people are foregoing treating themselves to expensive restaurant meals, as they are perceived as being over indulgent, but still want to be able to treat themselves so will order fast food for delivery instead. They’ll still have side orders and dessert, so that it feels like a special treat, but at the same time, the bill is still less than it would be if they had gone out for a restaurant meal.

So it would seem that in times of economic downturn, fast food’s reputation for being cheap, cheerful and filling – plus the idea of having a little affordable treat, is creating a boom in sales where other businesses are losing out.

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