McDonald's has reported that its comparable-store sales rose 4.9% on a global basis, and 3.8% in the U.S., in April.
While the gains were slightly below those realized in March -- which showed global and U.S. comparable-store sales gains of 5.2% and 4.2%, respectively -- last month's U.S. performance was the chain's second-best since April 2009, adding another hopeful indicator of the start of recovery for the domestic restaurant industry.
McDonald's' global same-store sales have continued to show monthly gains through the recession, although the gains weakened somewhat between October '09 and January of this year (when they ranged from 0.7% to 3.3%). The global comparable-store gain picked up to 4.8% in February, making April the third consecutive month of approximately 5% gains.
On a total-store or system-wide basis, April worldwide sales rose 10.3%, marking the chain's 84th consecutive month of global sales gains.
In the U.S., with very few exceptions (such as an 0.8% dip in March '08), McDonald's has also managed to show comparable-store gains through most of the recession, although monthly gains fluctuated anywhere between about 2% to 5%-6%. U.S. performance began to flag in October '09, when the gain flattened to 0.1%, followed by a 0.6% dip in November, a 1% gain in December, and a 0.7% decline in January. Sales recovered to plus 0.6% in February before showing the significant 4.2% and 3.8% gains of the past two months.
The April performance also reflected comparable-store gains of 5.3% in Europe and 3.9% in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region.
McDonald's CEO Jim Skimmer attributed the continuing momentum to the chain's connection with consumers via "outstanding menu variety and compelling value, unbeatable convenience and contemporary restaurants." The mega-QSR specifically cited its "everyday value message," starting with its breakfast Dollar Menu, as a key sales driver.
Menu items that were top contributors to April's gains were beverages (including Frappes and other McCafe offerings), along with Chicken McNuggets, breakfast items and other core products, according to McDonald's.
For the first quarter, McDonald's reported global comparable sales up 4.2%, and U.S. comparable sales up 1.5%.
One business day after McDonald's April sales performance announcement, U.S. Cellular Corp. announced that it has appointed Mary N. Dillon, currently global CMO and EVP for McDonald's Corp., as its new president/CEO, effective June 1. At U.S. Cellular, Dillon will succeed John E. Rooney, who is retiring, in the top posts.
The U.S. Cellular press release credits Dillon with having "led initiatives to build and enhance the McDonald's brand worldwide, and increase the quality and efficiency of marketing planning and execution."
According to Forbes.com, Dillon joined McDonald's with her current titles in October 2005. Previously, she had served as division president of PepsiCo division Quaker Foods, and as VP, marketing for Quaker Foods.
McDonald's is beginning the search process for a global CMO replacement, according to VP, corporate media relations Walt Riker. "We're not surprised Mary left to take a CEO position," he added, in an email response to Marketing Daily. "She is talented and made a mark with her thirst for in-depth customer insights and brand relevancy. Meanwhile, we have a deep bench of experienced marketing leaders in every area of the world. We will continue our strong marketing momentum as we head toward the World Cup and many other exciting programs."