Wingstop’s results are very informative as the chain is generally oriented towards a lower-income demo which is supposed to be struggling in the current economic environment.
Hopefully the trough of a shocking Black Swan event, 2Q20 gave us an average comp decline of -15.4% for 23 $1B+ chains under coverage. Notably, there was a very wide dispersion of results with a comp high of +32% (Wingstop) all the way to a low of -59% (IHOP) as consumers decidedly shifted away from dine-in to low-contact off-premise solutions.
In a shocking Black Swan event, the industry suffered the forced closing of all dining rooms in late March 2020. While this shock was less troublesome to concepts already heavily oriented towards drive-thru and off-premise, the devastation for sit-down oriented chains has been previously unimaginable.
The successful brands continue to add value in some form or another sufficient to drive higher tickets. It could be from menu improvements or innovation or digital order platform upgrades that add convenience to go with a higher check. It seems that those consumers with means can be cajoled into spending more if they perceive a value-added proposition in some form that resonates.
Wingstop enjoys strong brand positioning around: cooked-to-order chicken wings (in a deep fryer without the use of heat lamps or microwaves) that are hand-sauced & tossed in a choice of 11 flavors ranked by heat; and great access with a 75% take-out mix. Essentially, Wingstop is the first chain to translate wings into a fast-food experience.