KFC-Parent Yum Brands Sales Miss Wall Street Expectations Amid Cautious US Consumer Spending, Middle East Conflict

By Jace Dela Cruz

Feb 08, 2024 12:43 AM EST

Yum Brands, the parent company of fast-food brands Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, reported lower-than-expected quarterly sales on Wednesday, falling short of Wall Street's predictions.

According to Reuters, the lackluster performance was attributed to sluggish growth across its prominent chains, as a dwindling number of customers placed orders amid a challenging spending climate in the United States and the Israel-Hamas war.

Japan Christmas With KFC
(Photo : Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - DECEMBER 23: A KFC logo is pictured on December 23, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan

KFC-Parent Yum Brands Misses the Target

Like competitors McDonald's and Starbucks, Yum Brands faced a decline in sales due to the ongoing conflict affecting regions like the Middle East. 

The company indicated that the conflict had a minor adverse effect on fourth-quarter sales, particularly in markets such as Malaysia and Indonesia. Yum Brands' total same-store sales reportedly jumped 1% in the fourth quarter, missing analysts' estimates of a 3.9% increase.

However, it anticipates a gradual improvement as 2024 unfolds. While the Middle East constitutes a small percentage of KFC's and Pizza Hut's sales, the impact of the conflict reverberated across the company's global operations. 

In the US, where inflation concerns have led consumers, especially those from lower-income brackets, to tighten their budgets, there has been a noticeable shift from fast food to homemade meals.

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Decline in Foot Traffic Across Yum Brands' Establishments

Data from Placer.ai revealed a decline in foot traffic across Yum Brands' establishments, including Taco Bell, which has historically been considered a flagship asset within the company's portfolio. 

Analysts like Brian Yarbrough from Edward Jones told Reuters that rising meal prices at fast-food outlets have prompted consumers to reconsider their dining choices. In response to the sales slump, Yum Brands outlined strategic initiatives during Wednesday's earnings call led by its CEO, David Gibbs.

These plans include introducing KFC's inaugural loyalty program in the first quarter of the year and the rollout of limited-time offerings such as hot honey pizza and wings at Pizza Hut.

READ MORE: West Virginia Man Who's Been Having Breakfast at McDonald's Almost Every Day for 36 Years Celebrates 100th Birthday

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