Nightly News | January 29, 2012
>>> finally tonight, a shift change at the drive-through that might just be a reflection of the nation's still-sluggish economy. in cities and towns across the country there's a customer base hungry for a late-night snack. these led to a spike in sales for fast food giants. they're taking notice, extending hours and staying up all night. that story from nbc's mike taibbi .
>> reporter: taco bell 's commercials talk about the toerth meal, available to 1:00 a.m . or later.
>> who says nothing good happens after midnight?
>> reporter: wendy's has been aiming nocturnal hours to us.
>> you can eat great even late.
>> reporter: mcdonald 's, mopping up at 10:30 in this gardenia, california, franchise, doesn't mean the work day 's ending, just changing to the next shift.
>> people are out and about, and they want us to be available when they are out and about. and thank goodness we can do that.
>> reporter: the recession has been hard on the restaurant business. except in some markets. in the wee, small hour section, midnight to 5:00 a.m .
>> traffic in restaurants during that period increased 4% over the last four hours. traffic overall has been down 3%.
>> reporter: there's always been a segment of the workforce that wasn't strictly 9 to 5. casino workers, hospital staff, cops and emts refueling on the run.
>> reporter: cub reporters working the newspaper's graveyard shift . i remember that guy. the night owl customer base has been growing. for mcdonald 's and other major fast food chains, the decision to extend their hours has to do with the way americans are working now. which for many in this tough economy means any way they can, at any hours they can. so mcdonald 's now has 40% of its restaurants open 24 hours . up from 30% seven years ago. and others in the fast food world are following suit.
>> it's here to stay and it's everywhere.
>> reporter: an economy filled with people working night shifts, double shifts, second jobs. someone's got to feet them. mike taibbi , nbc news, gardenia, california.