McDonald’s US sales climb, customer traffic still a focus

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McDonald’s says new Big Mac sizes helped boost a key sales figure in the U.S. | AP Photo

OAK BROOK — McDonald’s says new Big Mac sizes helped boost a key sales figure in the U.S., but that it’s still working on trying to attract more customers to its stores.

The world’s biggest burger chain said Tuesday that global sales rose 4 percent at established locations in the first three months of the year. That included a 1.7 percent increase in its flagship U.S. market, where the fast-food chain has suffered four straight years of declining customer visits at stores open at least 13 months. The company said it “continues to focus its efforts on driving guest count growth,” but did not explicitly say how customer visits fared during the latest quarter.

Sales can increase as a result of higher prices or by people buying more expensive items.

McDonald’s Corp. noted that its results show it is “strengthening its foundation” in the U.S. as it works on improving its menu and the convenience of ordering at its restaurants. Efforts to improve the image of its food have included a recent announcement that it will start using fresh instead of frozen beef for its Quarter Pounders sometime next year.

Other changes include the promotion of a bigger version of its Big Mac called the “Grand Mac,” as well as a smaller version called “Mac Jr.” In late 2015, it also introduced an all-day breakfast menu.

McDonald’s has also trimmed its domestic store base for the past two years. McDonald’s closed additional stores in the first quarter, bringing its store base to 14,094 locations as of March 31.

For the quarter, McDonald’s reported a profit of $1.21 billion, or $1.47 per share. Analysts expected $1.32 per share, according to Zacks Investment Research. Total revenue was $5.68 billion, also beating the $5.48 billion analysts expected.

McDonald’s shares have risen 10 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has climbed 6 percent. The stock has climbed 7 percent in the last 12 months.

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