The QSR 50 Burger Segment

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

    Special Report | August 2016

    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 Rank QSR 50 Rank Company 2015 U.S. Systemwide Sales (millions) 2015 U.S. Average Sales per Unit (thousands) Number of Franchised Units in 2015 Number of Company Units in 2015 Total Units in 2015 Total Change in Units from 2014
    7 24 Whataburger $1,747.0 $2,530.0 119 672 791 17
    1 1 McDonald's $35,800.0 $2,500.0 12,899 1,360 14,259 -91
    9 27 Culver's $1,196.0 $2,183.8 552 7 559 31
    13 45 In-N-Out Burger*<sup>1</sup> $613.2 $1,959.2 0 313 313 12
    10 29 Steak n Shake $1,032.4 $1,866.9 144 417 561 16
    3 6 Wendy's* $8,811.9 $1,540.0 5,090 632 5,722 -58
    6 19 Jack in the Box $3,395.5 $1,510.0 1,836 413 2,249 -1
    12 39 White Castle $691.3 $1,408.7 0 390 390 10
    2 4 Burger King* $9,530.0 $1,337.4 7,074 52 7,126 -16
    5 15 Carl's Jr./Hardee's $3,661.3 $1,248.7 2,673 285 2,958 45
    4 13 Sonic $4,390.0 $1,200.0 3,139 387 3,526 41
    8 26 Five Guys $1,319.5 $1,123.0 813 402 1,215 52
    11 33 Checkers/Rally's $776.1 $966.5 505 324 829 25

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