McDonald's sales and profits beat expectations as COVID pandemic lifts

McDonald's sales and profits beat expectations as COVID pandemic lifts

McDonald’s sales are soaring above even pre-pandemic levels as the economy roars back to life.

The largest restaurant company in the world said demand surged for its Big Macs, fries and Chicken McNuggets in the first quarter — thanks to coronavirus stimulus checks and the company’s vast network of drive-thrus. New menu items, including a crispy chicken sandwich rolled out earlier this year, and upgraded delivery service also helped the fast food giant beat Wall Street’s expectations, the company said.

The burger giant said Thursday that its first quarter sales surpassed even two years ago, long before COVID-19, led by a big jump in U.S. demand. McDonald’s revenue rose 9% to $5.1 billion for the January-March period. That beat Wall Street’s forecast of $5 billion, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

Global lockdowns and social distancing restrictions make the dining industry a very tricky place to be.

The company said it is considering raising wages at its company-owned stores to address a labor shortage that has plagued the restaurant industry even as the economy recovers.

But so far McDonald's has fared better than many. The group used the opportunity to build out its digital presence and delivery options, a strategy that has boosted sales in the US. That's allowed many of the restaurants to continue operating despite indoor dining restrictions--though many markets are still struggling under the weight of the pandemic. A business model that looks more like a property company than a restaurant chain - owning most of its buildings and franchisees running the restaurants - has also provided some protection on the cost side.

Improvements the company made to its food delivery as a result of the pandemic also helped as delivery orders, now available at 75 percent of its stores, tend to be larger than in-store orders, the company said.

The company said it is considering raising wages at its company-owned stores to address a labor shortage that has plagued the restaurant industry even as the economy recovers.

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