Chick-fil-A is Losing Out on a Billion Dollars a Year. And That’s Just Fine.

Chick-fil-A is Losing Out on a Billion Dollars a Year. And That’s Just Fine. July 14, 2019


Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, made the decision when he started the fast-food company in 1946 that it would not be open on Sundays. He believed that the first day of the week should be for employees to have “one day to rest and worship if they choose.” The decision, based on deeply held principles, is even more extraordinary given what Chick-fil-A gives up financially.

by Deacon Greg Kandra

Chick-fil-A had revenue of more than $10 billion in 2018, according to the company’s corporate financials. That figure came from the operation of 2,400 restaurants in 47 states and Washington, D.C. It was the 51st consecutive year of top-line growth, which means that the company is a rare one, as it grew through several recessions, particularly the Great Recession of a decade ago.

Although McDonald’s does not disclose traffic by day, there is evidence that the weekends are particularly busy, which means that it may post 15% of its sales on Sunday. If Chick-fil-A has a similar traffic pattern, Sundays could bring in sales of at least $1.2 billion. It is a sum that management not only has given up, but has done so with a sense of purpose that almost certainly will not change.

Chick-fil-A remains family owned. Dan T. Cathy is board chairman and chief executive officer. Donald (“Bubba”) M. Cathy is executive vice president. At the lead of the company’s statement of “who we are,” management says, “It’s not about being closed. It’s about how we use that time.”

Chick-fil-A has several hurdles to opening a franchise. However, one benefit of ownership is that the company is among the fast-food operators that have healthy food options. This is likely an advantage as fast-food patrons move away from high-calorie menu items.

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