| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Dec 17 McDonald's Corp is
urging U.S. restaurant owners to take the unusual step of
opening on Christmas Day to deliver the world's biggest
hamburger chain with the gift of higher December sales,
AdvertsingAge reported on Monday.
The request - which comes as McDonald's tangles with
resurgent rivals such as Wendy's, Burger King
and Yum Brands' Taco Bell chain - would be a break from
company tradition of closing on major holidays.
"Starting with Thanksgiving, ensure your restaurants are
open throughout the holidays," Jim Johannesen, chief operations
officer for McDonald's USA, wrote in a Nov. 8 memo to
franchisees - one of two obtained by AdvertisingAge.
"Our largest holiday opportunity as a system is Christmas
Day. Last year, (company-operated) restaurants that opened on
Christmas averaged $5,500 in sales," Johannesen said.
"The decision to open our restaurants on Christmas is in the
hands of our owner/operators," McDonald's spokeswoman Heather
Oldani told Reuters.
Don Thompson took over as chief executive at McDonald's in
July and has the difficult task of growing sales on top of last
year's strong results in a significantly more competitive
McDonald's monthly global sales at established restaurants
fell for the first time in nine years in October, but
unexpectedly rebounded in November.
The November surprise was partly due to a 2.5 percent rise
in sales at U.S. restaurants open at least 13 months.
"Our November results were driven, in part, by our
Thanksgiving Day performance," Johannesen wrote in a Dec. 12
memo to franchisees.
Oldani said 1,200 more McDonald's restaurants were open on
Thanksgiving this year versus last year - not 6,000 more as
Still, the company has a high hurdle when it comes to
posting an increase in restaurant sales this month because its
U.S. same-restaurant sales jumped 9.8 percent in December 2011.
"It's an act of desperation. The franchisees are not happy,"
said Richard Adams, a former McDonald's franchisee who now
advises the chain's owner/operators.
The push to open on the holidays goes against McDonald's
cultural history, said Adams. In his first published operations
manual, McDonald's Corp founder Ray Kroc said the company would
close on Thanksgiving and Christmas to give employees time with
their families, Adams said.
"We opened for breakfast on Thanksgiving the last couple
years I was a franchisee. It was easy to get kids to work on
Thanksgiving because they want to get away from their family,
but not on Christmas," Adams said.