Friday, December 11, 2009

McDonald's to roll out breakfast dollar menu

McDonald's has announced will begin selling a variety of breakfast items for $1 early next month, a spokeswoman for the world's largest hamburger chain released the plan Thursday.

The move to add to its already popular dollar menu comes as McDonald's tries to fight a decline in U.S. sales, which have slipped following months of success when its cheap eats were a big draw for recession-strapped diners. November sales were down, and McDonald’s blamed the high jobless rate and the economy in general for the decline.

Dollar breakfast items added

Breakfast items to be added to the $1 menu, which already includes eight items for lunch and dinner time, are the company's Sausage McMuffin, a sausage burrito, a sausage biscuit, a small coffee and a hash brown. Some of the items are already sold for a dollar or less at some locations, although prices vary. Franchisees can set prices within limits, and McDonald’s will take that into account. For instance, a restaurant already selling a small coffee for 89 cents will substitute a larger beverage for its Dollar Menu.

Fast-food restaurant chains, which spent recent years expand their early morning business, have seen declining breakfast sales figures from business diners as unemployment climbs. It means fewer workers stop in for coffee and a breakfast sandwich on their way to the office. NPD Group’s market research has shown breakfast traffic fell 2 percent this summer at the nation's fast food restaurants.

At McDonald's, breakfast business is continuing to increase, although growth has slowed this year. McDonald’s has not publicly provided specific figures on its breakfast sales. Analysts feel that Thursday's move should McDonald's strengthen its breakfast business, in which it is still dominant among fast-food chains.

Fast food breakfast competition heats up

The dollar breakfast menu move will also put competitive pressure on McDonald's competitors, many of whom are also rushing to slash menu prices to keep customers, who are ever more reluctant to open their wallets, happy.

Dunkin Donuts is trying out a 99-cent breakfast menu in the Chicago area. Burger King's already has a nationwide breakfast value menu that includes hash browns, a ham omelet sandwich and a french toast stick 3-pak for $1 each.

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