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Technomic: Burger Chain Growth Peaks

Fast-casual chains such as Smashburgers have fared better than QSRs.

Fast-casual chains such as Smashburger have fared better than QSRs.

Sales by the top burger-menu chains was $72 billion in 2013 but nominal growth was just 1.2%, according to researcher Technomic. Inflation-adjusted sales show a decline last year. “Burger chains have finally reached maturity,” the company concludes in its latest report.

Technomic says the number of burger-chain locations increased by 1% in 2013. That’s in line with earlier research from The NPD Group that found the burger-chain unit count up just 0.4% last year. However, NPD, which tracks independents as well as chains, reported that the number of non-chain QSR burger units increased by a strong 7.2% last year.

Fast-casual burger concepts, not quick-service brands, grew the most last year, Technomic finds. Fast-casual burger chains posted a 10.4% sales growth, compared with just a 0.9% increase for QSR brands. Sales for fast-casual leader Five Guys Burgers and Fries were up 5% to $1.1 billion, but that contrasts with a 14% jump in 2012. Smashburger sales rose 32% to $214.9 million, thanks in part to the addition of 54 new locations, Technomic says.

Sales for top QSR burger chains totaled $69.7 billion in 2013, according to Technomic. As reported here earlier, the Top Five U.S. Burger Chains had aggregate sales last year of approximately $60.7 billion.

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