• Fast-food executives from chains including McDonald’s, KFC, and Checkers and Rally’s say they’re expecting customers’ desire for familiarity and normality to help rebuild sales.
  • “There is going to be this cocooning going on, a sort of a relief that we survived, but at the same time, wanting to embrace the things that give them comfort,” Checkers and Rally’s CEO Frances Allen said. “And there’s nothing like burgers and fries as comfort food.”
  • Familiar grocery brands have seen sales growth during the pandemic, a trend fast-food executives expect to continue. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As states reopen for business during the coronavirus pandemic, fast-food giants are betting Americans seeking comfort will flock to old favorites. 

Executives of chains, including McDonald’s, KFC, Taco Bell, and Checkers and Rally’s, have all said that customers’ desire for normalcy and familiarity will help boost sales as restaurants recover. 

David Gibbs, the CEO of Yum Brands, said on Wednesday that the company’s chains — which include Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell — stand out for their “convenience and normalcy, all of which are highly sought out in these uncertain times and beyond.” 

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Frances Allen, the CEO of Checkers and Rally’s, told Business Insider in a webinar that she expects people are going to want to return to comfort food and comfort brands.

“There is going to be this cocooning going on, a sort of a relief that we survived, but at the same time, wanting to embrace the things that give them comfort,” Allen said. “And there’s nothing like burgers and fries as comfort food. From a selfish point of view, we’re also excited to be able to lean back into that.”

McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said on a call with investors on Thursday that familiar brands thrived in grocery stores as people stayed home. Earlier in the week, PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta said the company was seeing impressive sales from large brands that customers trust. 

“I think that same dynamic is going to be at play as people start to come out looking for familiar brands,” Kempczinski said Thursday. 

Fast-food companies, including McDonald’s, Yum Brands, and Restaurant Brands International, that reported earnings this week said that sales are beginning to recover after plummeting in late March. Drive-thru business helped chains outperform the rest of the struggling restaurant business as customers sheltered-in-place across the US.

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