McDonald's has had a great 2021.
In an earnings call on Thursday, the chain reported a same-store sales increase of 13.8% across its American restaurants—the largest annual increase in this metric since the company started reporting it in 1993.
McDonald's also saw its sales boosted in the fourth quarter of the year, thanks to items like the popular new chicken sandwiches and its long-standing seasonal attraction McRib.
However, the chain is still struggling with labor woes and growing costs of food, paper, and other materials, issues that are expected to continue in the new year.
Here's how that will continue affecting your McDonald's experience.
For more fast-food news, check out 8 Worst Fast-Food Burgers to Stay Away From Right Now.
Prices are higher and could keep growing
McDonald's sales grew by 7.5% in the fourth quarter thanks, in part, to the price increases it has implemented across the menu in 2021.
CEO Chris Kempczinski said last year that McDonald's prices were about 6% higher in 2021 compared to 2020. And according to Thursday's earnings call, the chain could continue to raise its prices in 2022 as it contends with another expected spike in food and material costs.
Store hours are still shorter
You may have noticed a change in how long your local McDonald's stays open each day. Like most of its peers, the chain is severely understaffed and is having to cut down on store hours as a result.
At the height of the Omicron infections in December, Kempczinski told The Wall Street Journal that McDonald's franchisees can't get their restaurants staffed enough to keep the doors open full-time and that the chain's locations now operate at 10% fewer hours than they did before the pandemic.
Currently, limited hours are affecting about 1% of the chain's U.S. locations (about 1,300 stores) he said in Thursday's earnings call.
The drive-thru wait is longer
Understaffing at America's favorite fast-food chain has had other unfortunate effects on customers—particularly those rolling through the drive-thru. While the company prides itself on having one of the fastest drive-thrus in the quick-service industry, the time you'll spend waiting for your order has just increased.
Kempczinski confirmed that McDonald's drive-thrus have gotten slower since 2020. That year, the company managed to shave 30 seconds off the average drive-thru wait time thanks, in part, to a simplified menu.
A recent study showed that getting through the McDonald's drive-thru takes just over 5 minutes.
Dining rooms are harder to come by
Kempczinski confirmed that as many as 20% of the chain's domestic locations have shut down dining rooms again, thanks to a resurgence in Omicron cases. If you're looking to enjoy your Big Mac on-site, you may be out of luck.