McDonald's has been under fire for months from consumers who are outraged over significant price increases at the once-affordable fast-food chain. But in 2024, fans of the Golden Arches may finally see some relief from those rising costs.
McDonald's just released its earnings report for the fourth quarter of 2023 and the full year, and then dove deeper into the results during a Feb. 5 earnings call. One topic that came up repeatedly during the call was McDonald's plans regarding pricing in 2024. And in good news for McDonald's customers, the company indicated that price increases will likely slow down this year as inflation continues to ease incrementally.
"Obviously, as we head into 2024, knowing inflation has come down a fair bit from its peak…I think our pricing we certainly expect will come down roughly in line with that as we work through the year," said Ian Borden, McDonald's executive vice president and CFO.
Borden revealed that McDonald's prices increased around 10% last year. He also noted that they know consumers are "more weary" of higher prices nowadays and said that the chain will keep the consumer in mind when making pricing decisions moving forward.
If McDonald's does follow through on its pricing plans, the change will hopefully provide some breathing room to consumers who've seen their favorite menu items become less and less affordable.
Several customers have gone viral on social media in the past year for highlighting McDonald's price increases and slamming the chain for how costly it has become.
Just last week, a photo of a McDonald's receipt from a rest stop location in Fairfield, Conn., made major waves on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter. The receipt showed that the McDonald's location was charging a whopping $14.58 for two Egg McMuffins, which breaks down to $7.29 per sandwich. The post has racked up nearly two million views and hundreds of comments from users who sounded off against the chain.
"I don't eat [at McDonald's] because the price is outrageous," an X user commented.
In July 2023, a photo of a $17.59 Big Mac combo meal at a McDonald's inside a Connecticut rest stop inspired a similar flurry of backlash, CBS News reported.
Customers' opposition to spending too much at the chain has started to directly impact McDonald's. CEO Chris Kempczinski said during the Feb. 5 earnings call that lower-income consumers (which he classified as those with a household income of $45,000 or less per year) have been visiting McDonald's less frequently because eating at home is more affordable. When they do dine at McDonald's, many lower-income guests aren't ordering as much or they're opting for less expensive menu items, according to Kempczinski.
However, McDonald's hopes to entice them back by focusing on value in 2024.
"The battleground is certainly with that low-income consumer. And I think what you're going to see as you head into 2024 is probably more attention to what I would describe as affordability," Kempczinski said.