Chicago - The fast-casual segment continues to obtain share from full-service chains and drive limited-service growth, making up 15% of the $231 billion limited-service restaurant segment. The “Top 150 Fast-Casual Chain Report” from Technomic shows that fast-casual sales increased 11% in 2013, while all limited-service chains grew by only 3.5%.
"It's no secret that today's consumer wants quality offerings made quickly," said Darren Tristano, executive VP of Technomic. "Fast casual has made an impact on the full- and limited-service restaurant landscape. Before, a consumer might have traded a quality and fresh meal for something quick and economical. Fast-casual continues to find new ways to offer both, and it's become a $34.5 billion segment."
Bakery cafes continued to lead all menu categories among the Top 150 fast-casual chains, with U.S. systemwide sales of $6.7 billion, up more than 9% from 2012. The Mexican and sandwich categories were second and third largest, with U.S. systemwide sales of $6.4 and $4.9 billion, respectively.
The specialty menu category saw the fastest sales growth, up 16%, followed by chicken which was up 12%. The sandwich and specialty clusters experienced the highest unit growth, growing outlets by 13% and 11%, respectively. Top fast-casual clusters and their leaders include:
• Bakery cafe led by Panera Bread with estimated sales of $4.1 billion.
• Mexican led by Chipotle Mexican Grill with estimated sales of $3.2 billion.
• Sandwich led by Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwich Shop with sales of $1.5 billion.
• Chicken led by Zaxby's with sales of $1.1 billion.
• Asian/Noodle led by Panda Express with sales of $2 billion.
• Burger led by Five Guys Burgers and Fries with sales of $1.1 billion.
• Pizza led by Donatos Pizza with estimated sales of $174 million.
• Specialty led by Dickey's Barbecue Pit with estimated sales of $331 million.