For the first time since April 2003, monthly sales at McDonald’s Corp. went down instead of up, falling 1.8% in October at stores open more than a year.
The fast-food giant known for innovating its way through the recession while competitors lagged has lately lost some of its momentum. Last month, the company said its profit for the third quarter tumbled nearly 4% amid a stronger dollar and brutal U.S. competition after sliding 4.5% in the prior quarter.
In October, sales were down across the world. Revenue tanked 2.2% in both the U.S. and in Europe while slipping 2.4% in the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa regions.
The poor figures “reflect the pervasive challenges of today’s global marketplace,” said Don Thompson, who became chief executive in July.
McDonald’s stock was down as much as 1% to $85.96 a share in morning trading in New York.
In the U.S., McDonald’s tried to stem the declines by advertising its value menu and launching new offerings such as the premium Cheddar Bacon Onion sandwiches -- an effort to compete with fast-casual and other higher-end rivals.
But other brands in McDonald’s quick-service class are revving their engines to try to overtake the Golden Arches.
Burger King WorldWide Inc. has undergone a major revamp, sprucing up its stores, kicking out its unpopular monarch mascot, hiring a sparkling slate of celebrity endorsers and upgrading its menu.
Taco Bell has mostly recovered from a food quality debacle last year with hit items such as the Doritos Locos Tacos, a gourmet Cantina Bell menu and, this week, a selection of desserts.
Maybe the December arrival of the McRib, McDonald’s cult favorite pork sandwich, can turn things around.