McDonald’s has been shaking things up in the fast food sector to an unprecedented degree over the first half of this year. And they’re not done yet. Over the next year, they say they’ll close more restaurants than they open – for the first time in the burger giant’s history. The question is… Why?
Apparently, they’re adjusting the geographic distribution of their outlets while, at the same time, adjusting their store staffs downward and their ordering technology upward. Drastic measures.
Remember that story we had about a year ago, about McD’s testing a new, electronic touchscreen ordering system which would let them cut counter staff dramatically? That’s all part of the plan.
And the new menu items designed to make McD’s seem more nutritionally responsible and inviting to health-conscious younger people? Those, too.
Desperate times call for desperate measures…
My contention is – and has been for some time – that the Fast Food Sector as a whole is facing a sea change in the overall Dining-Out Industry and is scrambling to find ways to remain competitive not only with fellow Fast Food outlets but with Food Trucks, resurgent neighbourhood Diners and Bistros and – most importantly – the trend to supermarkets selling prepared foods and whole meals to take home and eat.
And then there’s the skyrocketing cost of raw materials – Beef and Chicken in particular – that’s pricing the Burger-and-Fry chains out of their traditional youth (mainly high school student) markets. Not to mention family groups: a family of four can hardly get out of a traditional burger joint for under $15 per person now-a-days!
I was heartened to read a Reuters News Service story in a major newspaper the other day on the phenomenon. It’s opening line was: “This is what death looks like.” The writer was referring to the imminent death of the traditional Fast Food Industry in the face of growing market preference changes and financial realities.
We’ll be watching with interest through the coming weeks and months…
~ Maggie J.