Why Chick-fil-A's decision to close on Sundays is a brilliant business strategy
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- Chick-fil-A locations across the US are all closed on Sunday, in keeping with founder Truett Cathy's Christian faith.
- While the decision to close on Sunday is driven by religious values, analysts say that it is also a brilliant business decision.
- Closing on Sunday gives employees a chance to recharge, and it creates a sense of community and scarcity among customers.
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Chick-fil-A is achieving sales numbers no other chicken chain in the industry can top - and it's doing it with one fewer day of the week to work with.
The chicken chain is famous for its policy of closing on Sunday. Even locations in airports and sports stadiums remain closed on Sunday, despite the massive number of travelers and hungry football fans seeking fried-chicken sandwiches.
"Closing our business on Sunday, the Lord's Day, is our way of honoring God and showing our loyalty to Him," Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy writes in his book "Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People."
Cathy continues: "My brother Ben and I closed our first restaurant on the first Sunday after we opened in 1946, and my children have committed to closing our restaurants on Sundays long after I'm gone. I believe God honors our decision and sets before us unexpected opportunities to do greater work for Him because of our loyalty."
Despite being open for 14% fewer days a year than competitors, Chick-fil-A is dominating the fast-food industry. The chain's same-store sales grew by 16.7% in 2018, according to Nation's Restaurant News data; internal sales figures shared with Business Insider indicate that same-store sales have been up by more than 16% so far in 2019 as well.
Read more: Chick-fil-A's mobile sales are skyrocketing as execs say the chicken chain is entering a new tech-obsessed era
Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
While Cathy's original reason may have been based purely on his Christian faith, analysts say that the decision to close on Sunday is also a brilliant business decision.
"Initially people might think, well, they're going to do less sales because they closed one day every week," Kalinowski Equity Research founder Mark Kalinowski told Business Insider. "But, there are a lot of benefits to being closed on Sundays."
Giving employees and franchisees (referred to as operators at Chick-fil-A) at least one day off a week allows them to relax and return rejuvenated to their jobs, Kalinowski says. And, for customers, the knowledge that they can't get Chick-fil-A on Sundays helps drive them to visit the chain when it is open.
"It provides a sense of urgency - you better get to that restaurant today, because they're going to be closed on Sunday," Kalinowski said. "I don't think the company designed it that way at all. But it's a call to action every single week."
John Hamburger, the president of Franchise Times, similarly pointed to Chick-fil-A's decision to close on Sunday as a counterintuitive sales booster.
"Being open six days a week provides benefits to both the operators and the customers," Hamburger said. "The owner operator gets the time off. Closed on Sunday conveys a sense of caring and community to the customers."
"Being private means they can do the right thing, not the expedient Wall Street way of doing things," Hamburger added.
There is no chance that Chick-fil-A will change its policy of closing on Sunday any time soon. In 2000, Truett Cathy's children - including Dan Cathy, the chain's current CEO - pledged to uphold the company's commitment to keeping the chain closed on Sunday.
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