NATIONAL NEWS

$3 for a single McDonald’s hash brown? Customers are fed up and pushing back

Feb 8, 2024, 10:51 AM

NEW YORK (CNN) Corporate America may be bumping up against the limit of its power to keep raising prices as consumers in some markets cry uncle.

At McDonald’s, which has repeatedly boasted about its ability to raise menu prices without denting sales, executives are finally acknowledging that customers need a break.

On Monday, as the burger chain reported weaker-than-expected sales at its U.S. stores, CEO Chris Kempczinski addressed McDonald’s “affordability” problem, and indicated the chain would cut prices on some menu items.

“Eating at home has become more affordable,” Kempczinski said.

He’s right: Grocery prices are still high, but they rose just 1.3% overall in 2023, while dining out surged 5.2%, according to the latest Consumer Price Index report.

That’s putting pressure on lower-income consumers, a vital base for the chain.

“We actually saw that cohort” — customers making $45,000 or less — “decrease in the most recent quarter,” he added.

Kempczinski didn’t offer details on the timing or size of any price cuts. But his focus on affordability marked a shift from just a few months ago, when he boasted that U.S. menu prices, which went up as much as 10% in 2023 alone, weren’t deterring sales.

“Even though we’re pushing through pricing, the consumer is tolerating it well,” he said in an October analyst call.

In a statement to CNN, McDonald’s declined to comment on specific price cuts but reiterated its commitment to providing affordable options to consumers.

While inflation has slowed significantly, prices for everyday necessities remain high, and people are getting fed up. McDonald’s has become a regular target for social media users complaining about prices. Viral stories lamenting the cost of a Big Mac meal — particularly the $18 ones at a widely maligned Darien, Connecticut, location off I-95 — have become a TikTok genre unto themselves.

At the core of those widely shared sticker-shock moments is a genuine angst over the cost of basic needs like food — especially food that’s meant to be affordable.

On TikTok, it’s a common refrain for McDonald’s customers to say the company has gone too far, charging more than $3 for a single hash brown in some locations.

“Who told y’all y’all was that good to be charging that much for your food?” quips one user in a TikTok video titled “McDonald’s has gotten too cocky.”

Other popular videos call out the audacity of a medium French fry costing roughly as much as a Filet-o-Fish.

Because most McDonald’s restaurants in the United States are independently owned, prices vary depending on where you are. (So if you find yourself pulling off the highway for a quick bite at a travel center in Darien, one of the richest towns in America, you can reasonably expect your meal to cost significantly more than you would at a suburban drive-thru outside of Des Moines.)

Still, up until recently, McDonald’s found most customers were still willing to pay. And even now, wealthier customers appear undeterred, Kempczinski said Monday.

For middle- and high-income groups, “we’re not seeing any real change in behavior,” he said. “We continue to gain share with those groups. But the battleground is certainly with that low-income consumer.”

In other words, it may be time to bring back the Dollar Menu. Kempczinski said McDonald’s would double down on its “D123” strategy, which prices some items between $1 and $3.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

Cave filled with clear water...

CNN

You know the most visited, but here are the least visited US national parks in 2023

There are no roads and no trails in America’s least-visited national park. Just vast wilderness. Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve, located 200 miles (322 kilometers) north of Fairbanks, stretches over 8.4 million acres.

11 hours ago

Taylor Swift is pictured at the Chiefs-Dolphins playoff game in Kansas City in January. (Ed Zurga, ...

Alli Rosenbloom, CNN

Taylor Swift baked ‘homemade Pop-Tarts’ for Travis Kelce’s teammates, says coach Andy Reid

Thanks to her well-known love of baking, Taylor Swift won over her boyfriend Travis Kelce’s Kansas City Chiefs teammates the old-fashioned way: by baking them “homemade Pop-Tarts,” according to the team’s coach Andy Reid.

12 hours ago

The lowest single-day price for Animal Kingdom has gone up by $10 for 2025 tickets. (AaronP/Bauer-G...

Marnie Hunter, CNN

Walt Disney World has raised ticket prices for 2025

Walt Disney World has put 2025 tickets on sale, and prices for many tickets have gone up from 2024 pricing.

13 hours ago

FILE - A solar farm sits in Mona, Utah, on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. The House voted Friday, April 28,...

Sophie Austin, Associated Press/Report for America

Biden administration taps $366M to fund clean energy for Native American tribes and rural areas

The federal government will fund 17 projects across the U.S. to expand access to renewable energy on Native American reservations and in other rural areas, the Biden administration announced on Tuesday.

14 hours ago

Police in the Caribbean are investigating the disappearance of an American couple after escaped inm...

Polo Sandoval, Elizabeth Wolfe and Sahar Akbarzai, CNN

Missing American couple allegedly hijacked on yacht in Grenada were likely thrown overboard, police say

The American couple allegedly hijacked by escaped prisoners while on their yacht in Grenada last week were likely thrown overboard, police said.

14 hours ago

FILE - The Toyota Motor Corp. logo is seen, May 11, 2022, at a dealer in Tokyo. In a statement issu...

Associated Press

Toyota recalling 381,000 Tacoma pickups because parts can fall off rear axles, increasing crash risk

Toyota is recalling about 381,000 Tacoma midsize pickup trucks in the U.S. because a part can separate from the rear axle, increasing the risk of a crash.

15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

$3 for a single McDonald’s hash brown? Customers are fed up and pushing back