Could any burger QSR other than Shake Shack say it has raised prices a whopping 6% in the past year and not be vilified? McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s would be roasted by the Street; Motley Fool would froth with indignation.
But Shake Shack is a Wall Street darling, not just because it hails from Manhattan but also because its sales are, well, amazing. For the 12 weeks ended July 1, 2015, Shake Shack’s total sales were up 77.9% (thanks to five new store openings) and same-store sales rose 12.7%. That gain in comps was helped by the 6% price hike that factors into an 8.6% increase in average check, plus a 4.3% boost in guest traffic. CEO Randy Garutti said during the earnings call with analysts that media frenzy over its IPO helped bring customers.
But the most interesting numbers may be these: the company says it expects new openings to average annual sales between $2.8 million and $3.2 million (better than the $2.5 million for Wall Street’s other heartthrob, Chipotle) while disclosing that established stores did sales of $102,000 a week during the quarter. Although summer sales are highest for the brand, the Q2 average would extend to more than $5 million annually per store.
Garutti said the chain will open 12 domestic, company-owned stores in 2015, up from the projected 10, and another 12 next year (including first stores in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Scottsdale). Tokyo and Cardiff, Wales, get Shake Shacks next year. Think how high opening sales for the Tokyo location will be.
Garutti said the Chicken Shack LTO sold out two days after it was introduced in July for $6.29 in its three Brooklyn locations. It’s back at those stores now, and Garutti said Shake Shack hasn’t decided whether to expand availability. The current LTO, the $6.19 Roadside Shack cheeseburger, is selling well.
Brand extensions are all the rage this summer because they play on familiar names. Thus we’ve seen Baconator Fries from Wendy’s, the Portobello Mushroom variation on Jack in the Box’s Buttery Jack burger, and Carl’s Jr.’s/Hardee’s Mushroom Swiss version of it All-Natural Burger. Burger King in Canada has added a Mushroom Swiss Bacon Whopper.
So it comes as no surprise that Burger King here is doing a limited-time spicy extension of its popular Chicken Fries. Fiery Chicken Fries are flavored with a cayenne-pepper marinade and will be offered beginning today at a suggested price of $2.89 for a 9-piece order (the same price as original Chicken Fries, which remain a permanent item).
And expect an announcement this week from McDonald’s about Buttermilk Crispy Chicken’s arrival. Analyst Mark Kalinowski in April noted that the update to McDonald’s current crispy chicken was testing in restaurants. This would be a companion to McDonald’s earlier upgrade to grilled chicken: the Artisan Grilled Chicken rolled out in spring.
New York City McDonald’s franchisee Jim Lewis hinted at this week’s announcement on August 5, tweeting: “Ready for Best in Class Crispy Chicken sandwiches??? Check with us next week! #quality #buttermilk #chicken.”