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McDonald's Just Announced the Closure of Hundreds of Locations

The chain is prioritizing drive-thrus while cutting locations in retail environments.

The days when malls reigned supreme are behind us, and it seems like the convenience of built-in fast food restaurants inside large retail stores may be disappearing, too. McDonald's just announced the closure of 200 restaurants nationwide, more than half of which are smaller units located inside Walmart stores.

This is the latest announcement in the fast food giant's face-off with the pandemic. Since March, the company has made a number of operational adjustments like shutting down dining rooms, cutting menu items, and requiring all customers to wear face masks.

Drive-thru locations have become prime real estate for fast food companies this year due to their contactless nature, and McDonald's is accelerating their transition from restaurants located in malls and similar retail areas to the more desirable business model. Currently, the chain is seeing success with this strategy—nearly 95% of their locations include a drive-thru, a major factor in the chain's pandemic sales.

The company's CEO Kevin Ozan confirmed that McDonald's is all in on investing in the efficiency of their drive-thru locations, the number of which is a good predictor for post-pandemic recovery. "Markets with a higher percentage of drive-thrus are showing quicker recovery," he said. It makes sense that restaurants are trying to cut their losses at food courts and other retail environments that rely heavily on foot traffic.

McDonald's restaurants started opening inside the Walmart's big box locations in the 1990s, during a period of growth for the fast food company, which lasted almost 40 years. Since 2014, McDonald's has been experiencing a steady decline in the number of locations, consistently closing a handful of restaurants every year.

The company currently operates 13,835 restaurants, second only to 15,000 locations operated by Starbucks.

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Mura Dominko
Mura is ETNT's Executive Editor, leading the coverage of America's favorite restaurant chains, grocery stores, and viral food moments. Read more about Mura
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