McDonald’s sales soar on Travis Scott meals

It’s official: Demand for the Travis Scott meal gave a major boost to McDonald’s quarterly sales.

The fast-food giant said Thursday its comparable sales in the US rose 4.6 percent in the third quarter — sharply reversing the 8.7 percent decline they had suffered in the second quarter due to the coronavirus. The Golden Arches partly credited the resurgence to the runaway success of the $6 meal it recently promoted with the Houston-born rapper, whose single “Franchise” is currently at the top of the music charts.

That meal — a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, french fries and a Sprite — sparked temporary shortages of ingredients including fresh beef and chopped lettuce last month. It also helped drive McDonald’s highest US monthly sales in nearly a decade despite COVID-19 closures that have limited much of its business to drive-through and pickup orders.

The company did not say whether its better-than-expected sales also boosted profits. It reports those numbers next month.

On Thursday, an info-graphic on the company’s website said the Travis Scott promotion and its Spicy Chicken McNuggets, also introduced in September, were “strategic marketing investments” that helped fuel a double-digit surge in sales during the month.

The promotion ended Oct. 4,  but on Monday McDonald’s announced another deal with reggaeton artist J Balvin, who until Nov. 1 is promoting his favorite meal — a Big Mac, fries and ketchup and an Oreo McFlurry.

The fast-food giant’s overall same-store sales declined by 2.2 percent, the company said, as many stores overseas were shut down due to the pandemic. Still, the US boost is a major coup for the burger chain behind the Big Mac, which has been struggling to lift sales in its home market since before the pandemic.

“Our third quarter performance demonstrates the underlying resilience of the McDonald’s brand,” Chief Executive Chris Kempczinski said in a statement. “Our unique strengths, including our unrivaled Drive Thru presence around the world, advanced delivery and digital capabilities, and marketing scale have become even more important during the pandemic.”

McDonald’s also said it’s increasing its quarterly cash dividend by 3 percent to $1.29 per share.

The company has been actively testing other tactics to keep sales up during the pandemic, including on adding pastry items to its breakfast menu beginning Oct. 28. The snacks, McDonald’s first new pastries in eight years, are aimed at lifting breakfast sales, which have been sagging for more than a year.

McDonald’s shares were up 0.2 percent at $226.43 midday trading on Thursday.

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