McDonald’s Chicken Sandwich Sales Are Blowing Up, Does Chick-Fil-A Finally Have a Legitimate Rival?

by John Jamison

The chicken sandwich wars of 2019 are still being waged with no end in sight. Popeyes was the clear victor in the short term, but Chick-Fil-A has had more staying power. Now, though, a new competitor has entered the arena. And they mean business. McDonald’s has risen to dominance following a February release of three new chicken sandwiches.

For those who are unfamiliar with the now-famous fast-food feud, the first shots were fired by Popeyes back in the summer of 2019. Aided by some free publicity from rival Chick-Fil-A, the famed chicken institution saw lines form around the block at virtually every one of their restaurants. Ironically, if Chick-Fil-A hadn’t called attention to the revamped Popeyes offering, the chicken sandwich revolution may have gone largely unnoticed.

But in recent months, fast-food OG McDonald’s has been doing insane numbers with their new and improved chicken sandwiches. According to Kalinowski Equity Research’s quarterly survey, McDonald’s franchisees are slinging an average of 262 chicken sandwiches a day. The research firm found that this volume would make up about 10% of a franchise’s annual sales.

The sales are unprecedented for McDonald’s chicken sandwiches and are a promising sign if they ever hope to unseat Chick-Fil-A. But McDonald’s rival benefits from the fact that they do chicken and chicken alone. McDonald’s itself has to dedicate resources to beef, fish, and countless other products included on its relatively huge menu.

However, once the chain’s advertising dollars move on from the chicken sandwiches, franchisees expect to lose volume. The research firm got comments from anonymous franchisee respondents.

“The second and third quarters are going to be great for same-store sales. Not too sure about the fourth quarter and 2022. Chicken intro advertising ends now, so we’ll see how the product sales hold up,” one of them said.

McDonald’s Not Quite Competitive with Chick-Fil-A Yet

While McDonald’s is making big strides in the chicken sandwich space, only one fast-food chain can claim true supremacy.

According to Edison Trends, data shows that Chick-Fil-A completely owns the online sales of chicken sandwiches. The chain owns roughly 45% of the market, with competitors like Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King holding no more than 20%, respectively.

So, McDonald’s is making up ground with their new offerings. But for the immediate future, they are only competing for second place. The lifting of COVID restrictions will help give a boost to their sales, but the same goes for their competitors, as well.