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Popeyes Beats Competitors, Retail Sales Growth Slows, Bitcoin Mining May Shift to US From China

Photo Courtesy of JHVEPhoto

Popeyes Beats Rivals in Filling Eateries

Fast-food chicken chain Popeyes, which spiced up the fast food chicken sandwich wars in 2019, is beating competitors in foot traffic, according to data collected from location services on mobile phones.

Placer Labs’ data shows traffic for Popeyes has placed ahead of McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Chick-fil-A and Burger King largely because of gains the Miami-based chain’s chicken sandwich introduced in the summer of 2019.

Monthly traffic for Popeyes since at least January has exceeded 2019 levels. Its biggest month came in April with a 26.7% increase over April 2019, before it introduced its chicken sandwich.

“This massive jump shows that the brand succeeded in turning the initial wave of chicken sandwich-driven visits into loyal customers and a wider overall audience,” Placer Labs said in its report.

Meanwhile, other fast-food chains still show foot traffic below 2019 but at generally improving levels until May. May monthly traffic declined for all of them. KFC had the biggest decline at 26.6% compared to 2019 after being down 7.7% in April.

Burger King introduced its own chicken sandwich in early June in a move that Placer Labs said appears to be helping drive traffic to stores.

Drive-thru, delivery and takeout could be a factor. During the pandemic, dining rooms were closed, which prompted chains to focus on drive-thru business as well as third-party delivery.

A Placer Labs spokesman said in an email that the company “analyzes all visitors above a certain threshold of around 5-7 minutes in order to differentiate between visitors and passersby.”

Customers sitting in line longer than 7 minutes are recorded as part of the foot traffic. That means, though, that quick drive-thru service, takeout and delivery doesn’t get captured in foot traffic.

Fast food chains have been slowly reopening for months, some opening fully more quickly than others.

Retail Sales Growth Slows

Consumers shifted some of their spending patterns in May away from what had become the norm during the pandemic, resulting in slower retail sales growth from the previous month.

The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that retail sales came in at $620.2 billion, down 1.35% from April. April’s number was revised to $628.7 billion, a 0.9% increase over March.

Sales surged in March, rising from $560 billion in February to $623.1 billion.

While sales growth slowed in May, they still exceeded May 2019 levels by $106.3 billion.

Spending slowed in May in categories such as furniture and home furnishings, building materials and sporting goods. Though slower, they are still better than in 2019.

Those categories surged during the pandemic as consumers focused inward on their homes and getting outside for exercise and other activities.

Consumers have increased their spending on buying clothes. Clothing sales hit $25.2 billion, an increase from April and better than in May 2019.

Clothing sales dipped significantly in March, April and May last year, the pandemic's first months that included stay-at-home orders.

Spending at restaurants and bars, which were hit hard during the pandemic, rose to $67.2 billion last month, higher than the $39.4 billion in May 2020 and the $64.3 billion in May 2019.

Bitcoin Mining May Shift to US From China

With China cracking down on cryptocurrency mining, the United States reportedly could be the biggest benefactor.

Mining operations have been shutting down as the Chinese government tightens regulations on that mining. CNBC reported that miners are looking elsewhere to set up operations in friendlier places, which may include Texas because of the state's plethora of oil and natural gas.

Some estimates say China comprises 70% of global cryptocurrency mining, according to a Reuters report.

Cryptocurrency mining requires special computers that consume a lot of energy that can be in their own dedicated buildings.

Even though Texas has plenty of energy, the amount of energy needed to produce cryptocurrency is a major issue, particularly if it involves energy not deemed clean such as fossil fuels.

While China says it is trying to disrupt illicit activities using crypto, it also is trying to hit a goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2060.

Texas’ newest resident billionaire Elon Musk announced recently that Tesla, the electric vehicle company he founded, would no longer accept cryptocurrency purchases, citing the environmental impact.

Musk shifted his stance this week, saying Tesla would accept cryptocurrency that is produced by reasonably clean energy but did not define what that meant.

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