Dec 8, 2014 9:16 AM

McDonald's sales weaken in US, Asia

The Associated Press

OAK BROOK, Ill. (AP) McDonald's says a global sales figure fell 2.2 percent in November, as U.S. sales continued to fall and it fought to recover from a food-safety scandal in China.

The world's largest hamburger chain said Monday the drop in global sales at locations open at least 13 months included a 4.6 percent decline in the U.S. and a 4 percent decline for the unit that includes the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East and Africa.

In its flagship U.S. market, McDonald's Corp. is facing with a number of challenges, including increased competition and changing eating habits, with places such as Chipotle gaining in popularity. Industry analysts say the attraction of places like Chipotle is in part that people can better customize their orders.

As McDonald's continues to struggle in the U.S., CEO Don Thompson has conceded the company hasn't done enough to keep up with shifting habits. In October, he said changes are in store for its U.S. restaurants, including the simplification of its menu.

The company has also been testing an option in Southern California that lets people customize their burgers by tapping on a touchscreen to pick the bun and toppings they want. McDonald's said Monday it plans to expand that option to 2,000 of its roughly 14,000 U.S. locations next year.

It has already announced the option will be expanded nationally in Australia.

Another challenge for McDonald's in the U.S. is long-held perceptions around the freshness and quality of its ingredients. The chain has been trying to address such concerns with a new campaign that answers questions about its food, such as, "Does McDonald's beef contain worms?"

In Asia, McDonald's has been trying to bounce back since the summer, when a TV report in China showed workers at one of its suppliers repackaging meat that was alleged to be expired. The claim has not been publicly confirmed by the supplier or the government.

The Oak Brook, Illinois, company said comparable sales for Europe fell 2 percent with a strong performance in the U.K. more than offset by weakness in Russia, France and Germany.

McDonald's has more than 35,000 locations in more than 100 countries. Its stock fell $2.81, or 2.9 percent, to $93.50 before the market opened Monday.


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