Texas-based chicken chain Wingstop experienced soaring sales during the pandemic as America couldn't get enough of chicken wings. In fact, the chain's same-store sales have so far been positive on an annual basis for 18 years straight, according to Restaurant Business Online. This is why its latest quarter results have been so surprising.
The chain's second-quarter sales fell by 3.3%. The drop was attributed to several factors, including a decreasing demand for dining out, record-high inflation, soaring gas prices, the war in Ukraine, and declining interest among lower-income consumers.
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Despite the decrease in Q2 sales, Wingstop is confident it can get back on the path to growth. After only working with DoorDash, it recently expanded its delivery service options by partnering with Uber Eats nationwide. While the partnership has only been operating for a couple of weeks, Michael Skipworth, Wingstop's president and CEO, said the chain is "encouraged by the early results," which are "at or above" company expectations.
Additionally, Wingstop is hoping to cater to those not in the mood for wings soon. It will begin offering its first chicken sandwich in 11 different flavor varieties starting in early September, thanks to promising results from a test at more than 60 restaurants in May.
The chain also plans to ramp up its advertising spend by over 35% to expand the brand's reach in the second half of 2022.
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Besides the growth strategies, Skipworth has also highlighted a unique advantage the chain holds over other fast-casual brands, which will make for a more successful second half of the year. With the cost of bone-in chicken wings decreasing by 18.8% year over year, the company is "a year ahead of other brands" in wrestling with rising food costs, having dealt with record-high wing prices in 2021.
"Wingstop is different. We are in a position where we do not necessarily have to take price," Skipworth said. "And in fact, we have the ability to return some of this deflation in the form of value to the consumer in order to retain those indulgent occasions or even take share, a true unique position to be in."