Financing

Chick-fil-A's unit volumes at stand-alone restaurants hit $9M last year

The fast-food chicken sandwich chain generated nearly $22 billion in U.S. system sales last year, according to its franchise disclosure documents, while both mall and non-mall locations thrived.
Chick-fil-A
Chick-fil-A keeps generating stronger revenues from existing restaurants. | Photo courtesy of Chick-fil-A.

That stand-alone Chick-fil-A on the corner with long lines in the double drive-thru generates a ton of revenue.

Specifically, the chicken sandwich chain’s non-mall locations last year generated average unit revenues of $9.4 million, according to the company’s 2024 franchise disclosure document released Thursday. 

To put that into context: It is more than double the average unit volume of McDonald’s, which neared $4 million last year. It is also higher than the average unit volume of Portillo’s, which last year generated average unit volumes of $9.1 million, according to data from Restaurant Business sister company Technomic.

To be sure, Chick-fil-A’s total average unit volumes were $7.5 million last year, largely due to the number of lower-sales mall units in the company’s portfolio of nearly 3,000 restaurants. But that still represents one of the strongest performances in the industry, based on per-unit sales, regardless of service mode, industry sector or menu type.

Chick-fil-A’s ability to generate growing volumes from a relatively limited number of restaurants has been a key ingredient in its success. The company has quadrupled in size over the past decade, becoming the third largest chain in the U.S. behind only McDonald’s and Starbucks.

U.S. system sales grew nearly 15% last year, to $21.6 billion, according to Chick-fil-A’s FDD.

To put that into perspective: Chick-fil-A over the past decade has added the sales equivalent of a combined Taco Bell and Raising Cane’s to its system.

Last year, that growth came amid a backdrop of rising prices and concern about inflation, which sapped traffic at many quick-service restaurants toward the end of 2023.

Chick-fil-A finished last year with 2,964 U.S. locations, just about 2,500 of which are traditional franchised units, with the remaining licensed locations that aren’t used for the company’s unit volume calculations.

The bulk of those locations are stand-alone restaurants. But Chick-fil-A, which was known more as a mall concept in the 1970s and 1980s, operates just under 200 locations inside shopping malls.

Those locations did well last year, with unit volumes growing 22% to $4.5 million per location, according to the company’s FDD.

Chick-fil-A has focused on unit volumes in part by limiting unit growth and despite being closed on Sundays. Its sales have increased in the double digits for 10 straight years, thanks largely to organic growth at existing restaurants and steady unit development.

The highest-volume Chick-fil-A restaurant last year generated nearly $19 million in sales. 

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