Yes, Drive-Thrus Were Slower Than Ever in 2019

Drive-thru dining isn’t fresh, it’s not always tasty, and it can be weirdly expensive these days, but at the very least, we expect it to be fast. But it seems like over the past year we’ve been waiting longer and longer for our Impossible Whoppers and Nightmare Before Christmas Frappuccinos, and according to one study, it’s not just our imaginations.

According to QSR Magazine, drive-thru restaurants really did get slower over the past year. They looked at 10 of the most popular fast-food chains and measured how long, on average, it took to get through the drive-thru. The results were kind of surprising.

In 2019, the average drive-thru experience took 255 seconds, 20 seconds longer than it took in 2018. And the main culprits in slowness include the big guns. Chik-fil-A was by far the slowest, with the average time to order and wait for food amounting to 322.98 seconds, over five minutes. McDonald’s was the second slowest of all fast-food restaurants measured in the study, clocking in a whopping 284.05 second wait time.

If you’re looking for a quick meal, you’re best off heading to Dunkin’ Donuts. They had the shortest wait time of all, likely because they primarily serve beverages and breakfast items. In general, the study also showed that breakfast has the fastest drive-thru times.

The worst time of day to hit up fast-food restaurants was late afternoon. Think about it — that’s when people who skipped lunch suddenly become ravenous and have to flock to the drive-thru to grab a quick meal, and also when teens getting out of school need an affordable snack. Basically, it’s a traffic jam waiting to happen.

So why are we being forced to huffily listen to our podcasts while waiting in a seemingly gridlocked drive-thru line for so long these days? QSR says that more complex menus and mobile order pickups are slowing things way down, and that we might not see improvements any time soon.

All the more reason to start packing a lunch to bring to work!

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