Touting “free” items and a good “deal,” quick-service restaurants are trying to attract diners and combat flat traffic.  From nugget wars to getting rid of extra costs, restaurants are pulling out the stops to get customers in the door. “The only thing that’s holding the QSR segment up is offering up these discounts, and it’s still not driving traffic as they hoped…It’s just a real battle for market share,” said Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant industry analyst at market research firm The NPD Group.

“Historically what we see when we have high beef prices, you see a lot more promotion of other proteins, chicken in particular,” said Riggs.  There is evidence that deals do spark visits. Deal-related traffic rose 5 percent during June to August versus a year ago. Non-deal traffic contracted 1 percent in the same period, according to NPD.  The latest front in the in the fast-food wars is the chicken nugget.

On Monday, Burger King  announced a promotion for 10 nuggets for $1.49 at the same time as rival McDonald’s is hawking 20 nuggets for $5 and promoting its annual Monopoly contest—a perennial traffic driver. “With the growing consumer demand for chicken menu items, we wanted to offer our guests an aggressive deal rivaling anything our competition has ever done,” said Eric Hirschhorn, Burger King’s chief marketing officer in North America.