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Domino's has a shortage of delivery drivers, so its CEO is hoping you'll drive to the restaurant to pickup your pizza instead

Business Insider logo Business Insider 10/15/2021 (Mary Meisenzahl)
Sunday Alamba / AP Images © Sunday Alamba / AP Images Sunday Alamba / AP Images
  • Domino's same-store sales fell last quarter for the first time in a decade.
  • Pizza chains thrived during the pandemic with delivery.
  • Now, a lack of drivers may be ending the pizza boom.

In Domino's just-released earnings results, and same-store sales dropped for the first time in 10 years.

Before the 1.9% decline in sales of the last three months, the pandemic created a boom for pizza businesses. Domino's, like other pizza chains, was able to keep nearly all US stores open as other restaurants were forced to shut down dining rooms. Early on in the pandemic, restaurant industry analysts Saleh and Roger Lipton named Domino's as one of the chain's best positioned to survive the pandemic.

Pizza chains had a major advantage over competitors for the last year and a half. They already had the infrastructure and customer base for delivery - on-premise dining was a much smaller part of their business than other chains, so they had less business to lose. Growth was strongest in the early days of the pandemic, with same-store sales growth topping 10% in the second, third, and fourth quarters of 2020.

Shrinking sales might not reflect lower demand, but Domino's doesn't have enough workers to keep up the earlier pace. CEO Richard Allison acknowledged the labor shortage as an issue for the chain in an earnings call, saying "staffing has been a challenge."

Video: Domino's pizza's warning on the impact of labor shortage (Yahoo! Finance)

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Business owners across the industry say they're unable to find staff and in some cases even cite a lack of desire to work, while workers say they can demand better pay and benefits in the tight labor market.

Allison said that overall staffing levels in the quarter were lower in the first half of 2021. While there are labor shortages across the business, the chain is most lacking drivers, he said.

Domino's plans to focus on growing carryout orders, which do not require drivers, Allison said.

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