McDonald’s Corp. (MCD), the world’s largest restaurant chain, has begun offering pastries in some locations, part of an effort to turn around declining U.S. sales by attracting more customers in the morning.
Restaurants in San Diego recently began selling raspberry and cinnamon cream-cheese Petite Pastries in a test, said Lisa McComb, a spokeswoman for the company. With the purchase of a coffee, customers can also buy two of the pastries for $1.29, she said. Without a drink, two of them are $1.99.
“It’s premature to draw any conclusions from the test,” McComb said in an e-mail.
The Big Mac seller has been struggling to boost sales at its established U.S. locations, especially as rival fast-food chains offer new menu items and discounts. McDonald’s sales at domestic stores open at least 13 months slid 3.3 percent in January, the third straight monthly decline. Severe winter weather and waning consumer confidence also contributed to sluggish demand.
Shares of Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald’s rose 0.6 percent to $95.58 at the close in New York. The stock climbed 1 percent last month, lagging behind the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s 4.3 percent gain.
McDonald’s stores first began selling breakfast foods in the 1970s after a franchisee invented the Egg McMuffin. The hamburger chain has since introduced other morning items, including the Fruit ’N Yogurt parfait in 2000, McGriddles in 2008 and McCafe coffees in 2009. More recently, McDonald’s tried selling bakery items in the U.S., such as croissants and vanilla scones, though it never introduced them nationally.
One of the fast-food chain’s top priorities is increasing coffee-driven visits to its stores, according to a document laying out the company’s 2014 to 2016 U.S. strategy obtained by Bloomberg News. McDonald’s is trying to better compete with breakfast sellers including Starbucks Corp. and Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. (DNKN), which each sell pastries including muffins, bagels and doughnuts. McDonald’s stores in the U.K. already sell blueberry muffins and sugar doughnuts.
Taco Bell, owned by Yum! Brands Inc. (YUM), also is working to drum up morning business. This month the chain will begin selling breakfast items nationwide, including egg burritos and waffle tacos.
McDonald’s, which has more than 14,200 U.S. restaurants, is scheduled to report February same-store sales results on March 10. Comparable-store sales are considered an indicator of a retailer’s performance because they include only older, established locations.
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