Fast Food Industry Trends: What to Expect in 2024

The restaurant industry has seen significant changes the last few years. Many argue the pandemic permanently changed the landscape of the restaurant industry. As the world returned to normal in 2023, new trends emerged with consumer spending. As we prepare to step into 2024, the fast-food segment, particularly the quick-service restaurant industry (QSR), is bound to experience some newfound trends. From technology advancements to consumer preferences, let’s see what QSR trends you may want to look out for in 2024.

New Tech

A hard-to-ignore QSR trend is developing technology. COVID-19 had another role to play in pushing tech into the QSR industry. Here are a few tech trends to look out for:

  • Contactless payment: COVID-19 forced many businesses to adopt contactless payment options. An article published by Digital Restaurant Association (DRA), shows more people are likely to use cashless options in the years ahead. From 2020 to 2025, the amount of cashless transactions around the world is expected to grow by more than 80%, and it is anticipated to nearly triple by the year 2030, according to the DRA article.
  • Mobile apps and online ordering: With technology today, food is just a click away. Statista shows an anticipated 1 billion users will utilize meal delivery in 2024, with that number growing to nearly 2.5 billion by 2027.
  • The continued rise in third party delivery. Consumers have proven over time they like convenience as much as anything when it comes to restaurant food, and third-party delivery platforms continue to grow.  Look for off premises consumption and third party platforms to continue to grow in 2024.

Healthy Choices

This trend continues to remain popular. Many consumers were looking for more health-conscious choices in 2023, and that’s likely to continue into next year. An article for Toast named healthier options for food and drink, including alternatives for allergies or food preferences, as one of the top 2023 QSR trends. Penn Station is known to deliver a craveable and hearty meal, but don’t forget the healthier options of salads on our menu!

As Americans age, the data shows they are trying to eat healthier. According to a report from Statista published in a blog in February 2023, 58% of baby boomers are actively trying to eat healthy, while 51% of millennials and Gen Xers report similar efforts, and 44% of Gen Zers are actively working on eating healthier. Still, a Gallup Poll found 36% of Americans order take-out or delivery once a week or more. Putting the data together shows Americans may be looking for healthy, convenient food in the coming year.

Looking Ahead

Since March 2020, the restaurant industry has taken hits left and right, but 2024 may d be the year for more normalized restaurant margins, services, and sales. QSR trends show consumers enjoy dining out. Nearly 50% of restaurant operators, according to data from the National Restaurant Association (NRA), said their same-store sales increased from September 2022 to September 2023. The NRA reported in the fall of 2023 that restaurant sales rose for the eighth month in a row in October. The organization reports sales for eating and drinking establishments increased 6.4% in eight months. In comparison, total sales in non-restaurant retail sectors were up just 1.9% during the same 8-month period.

Stay on Trend with Penn Station East Coast Subs

At Penn Station East Coast Subs, we’re uniquely positioned to grow across the U.S. as our brand expands along with the QSR industry.

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