Transit occasions sluggish by almost 30 seconds as demand will increase throughout a pandemic


A customer receives an order from a worker in a protective mask while driving through a McDonald & # 39; s Corp. restaurant in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Kyle Grillot | Bloomberg | Getty Images

According to an annual study by SeeLevel HX, average transit times in 10 chains slowed by almost half a minute as consumers increasingly conveniently collect their fast food orders from their car.

Drive-through roads have always been a major feature of fast food restaurants, but the coronavirus pandemic has shifted consumer preferences heavily in favor of the easy pick-up option that also appears safer for consumers. According to the NPD group, transit visits increased by 26% in April, May and June. Taco Bell announced that an additional 4.8 million cars were serviced through the drive-through lanes in the second quarter.

The abrupt change in consumer behavior has motivated restaurant chains like Starbucks and Chipotle Mexican Grill to add more thoroughfares to their footprints.

According to SeeLevel HX test buyers, average transit times have slowed by 29.8 seconds this year, which has been weighed down by longer waiting times. Only McDonald's and Yum Brands' KFC and Taco Bell chains cut their time, according to the research firm. KFC topped the list for the fastest pass with 283.3 seconds.

Total service times or the time between ordering and picking up food were shorter this year, possibly due to chains that downsized menus during the pandemic to simplify kitchen operations.

In the past few years, McDonald's, Wendy's, and other chains have improved their drive-through lanes in hopes of reducing service times. Fast food restaurants have also tried to shorten their menus to make ordering easier for employees. And tech-driven additions like digital menu boards can direct customers to order specific items and are easier to read.

According to the study, approximately 23% of the restaurants visited by the SeeLevel HX test shoppers had digital menu boards. This was the first time the feature resulted in faster transit times, saving an average of 12.3 seconds.

SeeLevel HX estimates that one digital menu bar per location can save nearly $ 28,000 annually.

The study, which took place from June to August, also looked at chains' safety precautions during the coronavirus pandemic. Roughly 91% of respondents said that workers wore masks at the payment and pick-up windows, but only 78% said workers wore gloves. More than half of the brands included in the study had clear plastic barriers on all drive-through windows.

While customers may choose drive-through lanes for a contactless experience, the study found that 80% of respondents received their orders from a representative rather than placing them on a tray or window.


Steven Gregory