McDonald’s sales rise in May despite slip in Japan and China

McDonald’s global sales increased 3.3 percent in May, the company said on Friday, with an uptick in sales in the United States and Europe making up for a decline in sales in other international markets.

In the United States, the fast-food company saw 4.4 percent growth thanks to the popularity of its breakfast offerings, including a new menu item called blueberry banana nut oatmeal. The company said a new blended drink called Cherry Berry Chiller also drove sales.

Though monthly sales rose 2. 9 percent in Europe, McDonald’s cautioned that Europe’s debt crisis and the austerity measures undertaken to stem it might have a negative impact on its forthcoming second-quarter earnings results.

If that’s the case, McDonald’s will hardly be the first American company to feel squeezed by Europe’s economic woes. As the Post’s Zachary A. Goldfarb reported Friday, firms from Ford to Kraft to Tiffany & Co. have found the situation in Europe is dragging on their sales.

The company described its performance in Japan and China as negative, a result which contributed to a 1.7 percent decline in sales in the market it defines as “Asia/PacificMiddle East and Africa.”

McDonald’s stock had fallen about 0.6 percent in afternoon trading.

In recent months, there’s been a flurry of activity among McDonald’s fast-food rivals to revamp menus and reimagine their businesses in order to boost market share.

Taco Bell announced a plan to add gourmet items to its menu that are the brainchild of celebrity chef Lorena Garcia. The move seems squarely aimed at siphoning business from Chipotle, the fast-casual Mexican chain whose stock was among the best-performing on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index last year.

In May, Dunkin’ Donuts opened its first outlet in India, a sign that the company is looking to emerging markets as a potential source of growth.

Burger King, meanwhile, is experimenting with home delivery and gave its menu a major makeover in April.

Sarah Halzack is The Washington Post's national retail reporter. She has previously covered the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She has also served as a Web producer for business and economics news.
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