Chick-fil-A is considered a Southern delicacy as far as fast food, perfecting the chicken sandwich. They are considered a “step above” other establishments such as Mcdonald’s, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell, but what separates them from these affordable dining titans? Perhaps the zealous customer service awaiting your order with a smile and the trademark phrase “my pleasure”? Maybe it is the efficiency of dealing with long lines at peak hours? Perhaps it is even the “customer appreciation” days or aptly named “cow appreciation day” (about their mascot) in which customers can get a free sandwich? Or maybe, it is the closing of their Business on Sunday. Let us see about Southern Fried Sabbath.
Why is Chick-fil-A closed on Sunday?
Often considered an homage to the Christian roots of Atlanta founder S. Truett Cathy was not working on the “Lord’s Day,” many business experts also consider it a smart move.
As someone in the American South, I’ve often heard people remark ironically on Sundays that they wanted Chick-fil-A even tho the thought hadn’t crossed them during the week. It boils down to that limitation and exclusivity is a psychological/marketing technique designed to make the customer desire the product more.
When looking at designer goods such as Louis Vuitton, Jordan/Nike, and even expensive watch brands such as Richard Mille and Patek Phillippe, many of their often exorbitant prices are due to making one of a kind products. The consumer buys not just into the tangible product but also what the brand represents, whether the athlete co-signs or lifestyle.
With Chick-fil-A, besides the previously mentioned superior customer service and product, Sunday’s closure may not just be a religious nod but also another relatable aspect of their brand, particularly for Christians. Legendary artist Kanye West even had a song called “Closed on Sunday” about Chick-fil-A, which had an upbeat religious overtone captured in that trademark “Ye” production, which expounded on their beloved brand.
When Religion and Politics clash with Business
The apparent cons of not opening on Sunday are the profits left on the table, especially on a day where the kids are off from school and quite possibly the parents from work.
Also, their closure is of religious connotation, and many of their previous donations were linked to anti-LGBTQ groups. Even conversion camps may alienate other demographics, even Christians who disagree with such a hardcore stance.
The company came out (pun intended) and acknowledged wrongdoings and ceased such donations, but who’s to say if such a mistake impacted consumerism. That continual line of cars still wraps around the parking lot. Because deep down, if the product is of premium quality, A1; 5 stars; or a classic, the customer will continue to buy.
The luxury clothing company Gucci ran into a similar faux par when they put out an ad with a noose over one of the models, which caused outrage among African-American consumers because of the reference to lynching during the turbulent, racially charged past of America. But, again, Gucci apologized and has notably cleaned up their image, notably with the hiring of legendary African American stylist Dapper Dan. Ironically, “Dap” never got the recognition in his prime during the 1970-the 80s when he was styling for all the celebrities from Mike Tyson to Jay-Z and even the shiny drug kingpins of New York City; a real underground, word of mouth legend, but his collection with Gucci sold out in minutes.
In both cases, the companies navigated thru proper public relations, and no doubt they may have lost profits. However, people still adore Gucci, enjoying that original Chick-fil-A crispy sandwich.
Maybe It’s Just a Day Off
It also may be a morale booster for all employees having one synonymous off day during their grueling schedules. Founder S. Truett Cathy wanted his predominantly Christian employees to worship and rest.
Although America is the land of Business, sometimes it does not realize or not care about the worker or supply chain. After many decades of thoughtlessness, the pandemic finally opened up CEOs to the idea that their Business may collapse without their employees being 100%; profitability will crumble without certain fundamentals, mainly health.
One of Chick-fil-A’s competitors, Taco Bell, implements similar strategies to demand when they take an often popular item off the menu and re-release it to great fanfare; for example, the recently relaunched Mexican Pizza, selling out at various locations.
Although roughly 1 billion dollars is lost yearly with each closed Sunday, Chick-fil-A maintains high profits thru coordinated branding and walking a tightrope of demand versus over saturation.
1.) Will Chick-fil-A ever open on Sundays? There are no plans to open, abiding in S. Truett Cathy’s vision of honoring the Sabbath.
2.) Is closing on Sunday overall worth it in the long run? Business Insider reports that over 1 billion dollars are lost, but each chain store made over $4 billion, nearly double Mcdonald’s and other leading competitors.
3.) Does closing on Sunday increase demand and perhaps not oversaturate the brand as a whole? Although Chick-fil-A had to endure public relations storms with their brand, the long but efficient lines Monday thru Saturday every hour are still a testament to limitations and people sticking with a brand thru superior product and service.
4.) Where did the simple but staying “my pleasure” phrase originate? S. Truett Cathy references a visit to a luxury hotel, Ritz-Carlton, and remarked how all the employees would respond with Chick-fil-A’s now synonymous phrase.
5.) Are there any states without Chick-fil-A and international locations? Yes, Hawaii, Vermont, and Alaska. As far as international locations, the brand opened in Canada and the U.K. in 2019.