• Higher pricing and more summer travel appear to have resulted in negative sales growth for Papa Johns in 2022’s third quarter.
  • Pizza Hut and Domino’s showed a rise of 1% and 2% in same-store sales in the same quarter.

Papa Johns’ same-store sales boom seems to have gone slightly bust in the third quarter of 2022 after 12 straight quarters of growth.

The chain attributed the slowdown in part to post-pandemic travel going up this summer. “Our customers are spending less time at home or in the office and ordering less pizza delivery,” Ann Gugino, Papa Johns’ chief financial officer, said in a Bloomberg report.

But higher pricing of 8% to 10% also played a role, Papa Johns CEO Rob Lynch said, according to QSR Magazine. “As the economy continues to be challenged and consumer sentiment continues to decline, there’s going to be more price sensitivity.”

The sales drop wasn’t dramatic. Papa Johns’ total revenues were down by around $2 million—less than 1%—in the quarter ending September 25, 2022. And the chain’s executives have good reason for optimism: According to QSR, 2022 “will be the highest sales volume in the brand’s history.”

The third quarter is usually slower for pizza delivery as Americans hit the road on vacations.

“Pizza does better in bad weather, when people are kind of stuck in their houses in colder or rainy weather,” QSR reported Lynch as saying. “We didn’t see that during the pandemic because people were in their houses, but now we’re seeing that return to seasonality. It was also exacerbated this summer as people were doing even more traveling after being cooped up the last couple years.”

For 2022’s third quarter, Pizza Hut and Domino’s had better luck, both showing positive same-store sales growth—1% and 2% respectively.

Papa Johns remains a force in the industry with 3,358 stores in North America. It has also focused on menu innovation in the past few years, which has helped spark a remarkable comeback since the ouster of founder John Schnatter.

In mid-September 2022, the chain introduced a range of so-called “space-flavored” pizzas and other menu items featuring chorizo sausage. Last December, Papa Johns offered a limited-time New York-style pizza, and its Papadia, a lunchtime special based on the piadina, rolled out in April 2020. That was followed by the pepperoni-heavy Shaq-a-Roni pizza, named in honor of spokesperson Shaquille O’Neal, which has been a recurring special offer since June 2020.

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