The much hoped for McDonald’s turnaround can’t come soon enough.
The struggling hamburger chain reported that comparable sales in its biggest market, the United States, fell 2.2% in May, much worse than the 1.7% Wall Street analysts were anticipating, according to Consensus Metrix.
McDonald’s was once again dinged by a drop in the number of people coming to eat in its restaurants and what it called “ongoing competitive activity.” In other words, it continued to lose customers to rivals ranging from Chipotle Mexican Grill to Chick-Fil-A to Panera Bread.
The world’s largest restaurant company is trying to remedy that with things like limited-time menu items (such as a third-of-a-pound burger), and a pared down menu aimed at speeding up service. The company also recently revived the Hamburglar character, now a hipster with stubble. And taking a page from Chipotle as it tries to woo diners concerned about how the food they eat is procured, McDonald’s has pledged to stop selling chicken raised with some antibiotics. (For an in-depth look at what went wrong at McDonald’s in recent years, please read this recent Fortune investigation.)
McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook, who took the top job in March to stanch the company’s deteriorating results, has said he plans to turn the burger chain into a “modern, progressive burger company.” His turnaround plan, announced in May, includes reorganizing management, cutting costs and returning cash to shareholders.
But while he waits for the turnaround to kick in, he at least he got a bit of a break from Europe, where comparable sales last month rose a more-than-expected 2.3%, helped in large part by strong numbers in Britain, a market Easterbrook is credited with helping to reviving. (His previous roles at the company included president of Europe division.) Company-wide, comparable sales, or sales at restaurants open at least 13 months, fell 0.3%, their 12th monthly drop in a row.
This is the last time McDonald’s will report monthly sales. Beginning next month, the company will only report on a quarterly basis.
With numbers like these, which show that McDonald’s will need a lot of time to turn things around, you can easily see why.