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GDP

Fast food restaurants represent one of the largest segments of the food industry with over 300,000 restaurants and $184 billion in sales in the U.S in 2010. The industry also seems to be recession proof. When the U.S. GDP fell from $14.297 trillion in 2008 to $14.044 trillion in 2009, fast food sales increased 4.2%. Convenience and low costs seem to be the main reasons the industry thrives when the economy is down.

Unemployment Rate

Higher unemployment rates tend to hurt the fast food industry. Most fast food customers work in industries like construction, manufacturing, and retail – industries that are usually hit the hardest when unemployment is high.

Inflation

As inflation rises, cheap fast food restaurants become more popular. In recent years, fast food restaurants have introduced low price items to their menus . For example, McDonald’s introduced its “Dollar Menunaire” menu. Menu items like this are aimed at luring away customers from higher priced dine-in restaurants whose prices have suffered due to inflation.

Employment Costs

Employment costs seem like they would be low in the fast food industry since a large percentage of the workers are paid minimum wage. However, employee turnover is high in the fast food industry. Costs associated with employee turnover include covering the vacancy, advertising the position and training new hires. The loss of experienced employees can also lead to a "brain drain," which can make your company less competitive. In addition to these obvious costs,...

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