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McDonald's to launch $5 meal promo in effort to reinvigorate sales

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McDonald's plans to launch a $5 meal promo in an effort to lure back customers scared away by recent price hikes to its menu.

The limited-time offer is slated to begin June 25 and will last about a month, a source familiar with the promotion told CBS MoneyWatch on Wednesday. The value meal will include a choice of either a McChicken, a McDouble or four-piece chicken nuggets as well as small fries and a small drink.

"We know how much it means to our customers when McDonald's offers meaningful value and communicates it through national advertising. That's been true since our very beginning and never more important than it is today," McDonald's USA told CBS MoneyWatch. 

Bloomberg first reported McDonald's plans to offer a $5 promo meal, which required approval from franchise owners. Palmaccio and other franchise owners gave the new promotion their consent this week, with McDonald's thanking those operators in an internal message Tuesday night. 

"Great value and affordability have always been a hallmark of McDonald's brand, and all three legs of the stool are coming together to deliver that at a time when our customers really need it," McDonald's franchise owner John Palmaccio said.  

Talk of the upcoming $5 meal promo comes weeks after McDonald's executives reported slower growth in foot traffic at its restaurants. Some inflation-weary customers are cutting back on fast-food dining after many chains boosted menu item prices. Between 2014 and 2024, Popeye's, Jimmy John's and Subway hiked their food prices 86%, 62% and 39%, respectively. 

Fast-food chains point to rising labor costs and costs of food as the key factors driving up prices

Still, the hikes appear to be particularly harmful to low-income Americans. A January poll by consulting firm Revenue Management Solutions found that about 25% of people who make under $50,000 were cutting back on fast food, pointing to cost as a concern.

Casual dining restaurants — like Applebee's and IHOP — are also feeling the absence of low-income Americans. 

The company has to be "laser-focused" on keeping prices affordable to convince customers to return, McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski said during an April 30 earnings call with analysts and investors.

"Consumers continue to be even more discriminating with every dollar that they spend as they face elevated prices in their day-to-day spending, which is putting pressure on the industry," Kempczinski added. "[I]t's imperative that we continue to keep affordability at the forefront for our customers."

McDonald's, the nation's largest fast-food chain, with more than 2 million people employed at its 14,300 restaurants and another 150,000 employees at its corporate offices. A majority of McDonald's locations are owned and operated by franchisees.

To be sure, a $5 meal wouldn't necessarily make McDonald's a pioneer in the fast-food industry. In 2015, Wendy's introduced the 4 for $4 meal that includes a small hamburger, four-piece chicken nuggets, small fries and a small drink. In 2019, Wendy's added its $5 Biggie Bag which includes a choice of sandwich or four chicken nuggets, and a small order of fries and a small drink.

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