McDonald’s Says Lower-Income Consumers Are Pulling Back

Even QSRs are becoming more of a luxury.

March 14, 2024

“Some lower-income Americans are rejecting McDonald’s and opting to cook at home instead, the fast food chain’s chief financial officer said at an investor conference on Wednesday,” according to CNN.

“It’s a challenging consumer environment,” Ian Borden, McDonald’s CFO, said. He noted that many consumers are trying to manage inflation, higher interest rates and dwindling savings.

“Some of those consumers are just choosing to eat at home more often,” Borden said. Borden said McDonald’s is offering them more “bang for their buck” at the drive-thru, including bundles priced at $4 and below at 90% of its U.S. locations.

The Wall Street Journal noted three other key points from Borden’s session at an investor conference:

  • McDonald’s recently teased its interest in launching a larger burger, and Borden said it intends to pilot two or three beefier options this year.
  • Chicken sales are growing faster than beef, but the company still wants a bigger share of the chicken market.
  • McDonald’s restaurants use 100 different coffee machines across the globe. The company wants to do more to make its coffee consistent.

According to CNN, “Whether a customer is grocery shopping or eating out, prices are looking better than they have in years since the onset of the pandemic. Food inflation overall is rising at its slowest pace since May 2021, according to CPI data. Price hikes at the grocery store are at their lowest level since June 2021, while food inflation at restaurants is up by the least amount since July 2021.”