McDonald’s Celebrates Biggest Bump in Sales Since 2012

The fast-food industry leader appears to be recovering from its string of down quarters.
(Photo: Albert Lynn/Flickr)
Jan 25, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.

In the fast-food industry, up was down in 2015. The year was marked by turmoil for the leading chains and, at the other end of the spectrum, the increased popularity of fast-casual spots. Things got so bad at McDonald’s that it stopped reporting monthly same-store sales figures after each announcement was spun into headlines about its failings. Meanwhile, Chipotle, cast as the David to McD’s Goliath, was insurgent, winning over both consumers and the popular narrative.

But new year, new corporate you, apparently: Chipotle figured out just what would ruin its mountain of goodwill and is now dealing with numerous lawsuits and investigations in the wake of its various food-borne illness outbreaks, and McDonald’s announced its best bump in sales since 2012 on Monday.

Same-store sales were up 5.7 percent in the last quarter of 2015, following a slight uptick of 0.9 percent in the third quarter. Prior to that, the chain suffered through seven consecutive quarters of decline in same-store sales figures. Also, despite the many Chipotle-chasing measures McDonald’s announced in 2015—remember artisan burgers and the TasteCrafted menu?—it was the expansion of an old stalwart that led the sales boom. That’s right: McDonald’s is riding high on all-day breakfast, which launched in October.

However, expanding breakfast hours will certainly increase the 2 billion eggs the chain uses annually. Following its September announcement that it will switch over to only cage-free eggs—a process that could take a decade—there’s potentially an animal welfare upside to the supply-side changes and new demand.

McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook made clear on an investor call that the chain wasn’t going to ride out of its doldrums on hash browns and English muffins. “We don’t want to be a single-initiative turnaround plan,” he said. McDonald’s is continuing to “invest in food quality,” as Easterbrook said on the call, remodeling its restaurants and giving consumers more opportunities to customize their orders—kind of like that chain in which you can pick and choose exactly what goes into your burrito.