What happened

Shake Shack (NYSE:SHAK) shareholders are trailing the market this year as their stock fell 11% compared to a 4% decline in the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The better burger chain finds itself in good company, though, as peers including McDonald's, Yum! Brands, and Burger King owner Restaurant Brands International are all underperforming so far in 2020.

A young woman bites into a burger.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Shake Shack initially jumped ahead of all these rivals on hopes that the company might surpass management's ambitious growth targets and more than double its store count over time. That enthusiasm waned after its fourth-quarter report showed declining traffic trends that were amplified by temporary closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now what

Shake Shack has noted improving trends as state economies reopened in May and June. However, the company's stores are located predominantly in heavily populated metro areas, especially in the northeastern part of the country. That focus may make it harder for the consumer chain to post as quick a return to growth as rivals like McDonald's, which has a much larger drive-thru service.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.