Special Report | August 2016

The QSR 50 Burger Segment

Ranking the top burger chains in quick service and fast casual.

image used with permission.

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Fast casual has stormed the QSR 50 in the last few years, with Panera Bread entering the top 10 and Chipotle close at its heels. That trend continued in 2015; Panera and Chipotle each padded their sales, with the latter leap-frogging both Sonic and KFC in the rankings. (Of course, Chipotle’s food-safety woes struck at the end of 2015, a sales hit that will likely be reflected in next year’s QSR 50). Elsewhere in fast casual, a pair of sandwich chains—Jersey Mike’s and Firehouse Subs—continued their incredible momentum up the list, while Wingstop similarly managed to jump multiple spots in the rankings.

Meanwhile, legacy quick-service chains were a mixed bag in 2015. McDonald’s finally found its footing after years of disappointing sales returns, and Taco Bell managed to jump Wendy’s and solidify a spot in the QSR 50’s top five. But KFC ceded more ground in the chicken wars, slipping to spot No. 14 overall—only six spots and just over $1 billion in sales ahead of Popeyes, which enjoyed a major boost in 2015.

Click column headers to sort
Segment Ranksort descendingQSR 50 RankCompany2015 U.S. Systemwide Sales (millions)2015 U.S. Average Sales per Unit (thousands)Number of Franchised Units in 2015Number of Company Units in 2015Total Units in 2015Total Change in Units from 2014
11McDonald's$35,800.0$2,500.012,8991,36014,259-91
24Burger King*$9,530.0$1,337.47,074527,126-16
36Wendy's*$8,811.9$1,540.05,0906325,722-58
413Sonic$4,390.0$1,200.03,1393873,52641
515Carl's Jr./Hardee's$3,661.3$1,248.72,6732852,95845
619Jack in the Box$3,395.5$1,510.01,8364132,249-1
724Whataburger$1,747.0$2,530.011967279117
826Five Guys$1,319.5$1,123.08134021,21552
927Culver's$1,196.0$2,183.8552755931
1029Steak n Shake$1,032.4$1,866.914441756116
1133Checkers/Rally's$776.1$966.550532482925
1239White Castle$691.3$1,408.7039039010
1345In-N-Out Burger*1$613.2$1,959.2031331312

* Includes figures estimated by QSR
1 Numbers are projected by QSR based on past performance
2 Includes 2014 unit counts