Drive-Throughs Drive Sales in Unusual Places
In the past, if you thought of drive-throughs, your mind’s eye probably envisioned a fast-food operator and perhaps a bank. Now, other drive-through images might arise including those located at drugstores, convenience stores, fast casual restaurants, etc.
Panera Bread is among chains making greater use of drive-through locations. According to FastCasual.com, the chain had 119 locations with drive-throughs at the end of last year with plans to build another 50 in 2012.
Panera founder Ron Shaich told USA Today that roughly half of the sales generated at the chain’s drive-throughs are incremental, noting that it’s not always easy getting into a Panera location. He cited adults with multiple children in the car as an example.
"Drive-throughs aren’t bad. What’s bad is doing them poorly in a mechanized way with processed food," Mr. Shaich told USA Today. "I’m all for giving people access to Panera’s good food — not limiting it."
The site of drive-throughs at convenience stores are still a rarity, but operators such as Cumberland Farms, Pak-A-Sak and others have stores that give consumers the option of staying in their cars to shop.
- Panera Bread to intensify drive-thru operations – FastCasual.com
- Drive-throughs drive up profits for more companies – USA Today
- Cumberland Farms testing drive-thru grocery store – Boston Herald
Discussion Questions: In which retail channel, outside of fast food, do you see the greatest opportunity for drive-throughs? Do drive-throughs for areas such as pharmacy and/or prepared foods make sense for some grocery stores?