GOBankingRates

How Pizza Companies Have Fared Through the Year of Delivery

JumlongCh / Getty Images/iStockphoto

JumlongCh / Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you’re familiar with the phrase “contactless delivery,” chances are good you’re part of the reason that Domino’s shareholders earned about 30% on their investment in 2020. Pizza was one of the pandemic’s great success stories — and not just for the corporate giants. Independent pizzerias enjoyed a renaissance after years of losing market share to the big boys.

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The ordering and eating habits of average Americans changed dramatically during the pandemic, but their unapologetic love of pizza did not. Pizza was already synonymous with delivery before the virus, and by adopting new safety protocols both in their shops and with their drivers, corporate chains and local haunts alike were able to capitalize.

According to Slate, Domino’s was reporting big spikes in sales even during the long stretch without televised sports — a primary cash crop in normal times. That’s because families began placing supersized orders to guarantee leftovers as pantry supplies dwindled and cooking at home got old.

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Pizza emerged as the pandemic’s go-to comfort food. To find which brand gobbled up the biggest slice of the pie, GOBankingRates examined the performance of the three biggest publicly traded pizza companies in America during the first three quarters of 2020. Here’s a look at how pizza fed a country in crisis.

Last updated: Feb. 10, 2021

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Domino’s

  • Q3 same-store sales growth (U.S./North America): 17.50%
  • Q3 gross new stores: 209
  • Q3 net new stores: 83
  • Year-to-Date total revenues: $2,760,844,000
  • Year-over-year % change in total revenues: 12%
  • Stock Price Jan. 2, 2020: $293.40
  • Stock Price Jan. 4, 2021: $379.50
  • % change in stock price: 29.35%

Domino’s enjoyed U.S. same-store sales growth of 17.5% during the third quarter compared to the same period the year before. Changes in customer ordering behavior during the pandemic drove that growth and hastened the positive sales momentum that the company’s U.S. stores had already been experiencing.

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Pizza Hut

  • Q3 same-store sales growth (U.S./North America): 6%
  • Q3 gross new stores: 148
  • Q3 net new stores: Up to -900
  • Year-to-Date total revenues: $713,000,000
  • Year-over-year % change in total revenues: -2%
  • Stock Price Jan. 2, 2020: $102.17
  • Stock Price Jan. 4, 2021: $105.17
  • % change in stock price: 3.57%

Pizza Hut tallied a $1 billion-plus increase in digital sales vs. the year before two quarters in a row in 2020. When it reached $4 billion in a single quarter, that was a new record not just for Pizza Hut, but for its parent company Yum! Brands as a whole. Yum! Brands, however, is shuttering hundreds of locations as part of a deal with its largest franchisee, who is closing locations as part of a bankruptcy agreement.

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Papa John’s

  • Q3 same-store sales growth (U.S./North America): 23.80%
  • Q3 gross new stores: 54
  • Q3 net new stores: 13
  • Year-to-Date total revenues: $1,343,423,000
  • Year-over-year % change in total revenues: 12%
  • Stock Price Jan. 2, 2020: $62.80
  • Stock Price Jan. 4, 2021: $85.34
  • % change in stock price: 35.89% 

In a corporate statement, president and CEO Rob Lynch announced: “Double-digit comparable sales growth, dramatically higher earnings and robust free cash flow all reflect a winning strategy and execution that have helped us outperform our competition and deliver five straight quarters of same-store sales growth.”

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The Little Guy’s Piece of the Pie

It wasn’t just the big chains that benefited from the pandemic — indy pizza shops got a shot in the arm during the COVID-19 crisis, as well. According to Restaurant Dive, the big three and other major players had been gobbling up single-store and small-chain pizza shops so quickly over the last decade that chains with 10 or more locations owned a full 60% of the market share. The proliferation of Slice, where you can order delivery and pickup from independent pizzerias, began to reverse that trend, however, and the arrival of the virus added rocket fuel to the little guy’s fire. By the end of summer 2020, independent pizzerias with a presence on Slice had doubled their weekly sales from $2,000 to $4,000 on average.

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Methodology: Ahead of annual report releases, GOBankingRates analyzed the performance of the three largest publicly traded pizza companies in the U.S. by sales through the first three quarters of 2020. Companies were identified according to Restaurant Business Online’s 2019 ranking. To provide a snapshot of their performance, GOBankingRates found each company’s (1) U.S./North America same-store sales growth in the third quarter of 2020, (2) third-quarter gross new store openings, (3) third-quarter net new store openings, (4) year to date (from January through September 2020) total revenues, and (5) year-over-year percent change in year-to-date total revenues. GOBankingRates then used Google Finance data to find (6) the Jan. 2, 2020 stock price for each company and (7) the Jan. 4, 2021 stock price for each company and calculated (8) the percent change in stock price over the past year for each company. Stock data for parent company Yum! Brands was reported on for Pizza Hut. Key details regarding each company’s performance were also provided. All data were gathered on and up to date as of Jan. 25, 2021.

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