For years, McDonald’s reigned supreme in the world of American fast food. But with American diets shifting towards seemingly healthier alternatives, McDonald’s has been forced to do something it hasn’t done in a long time: scale back its business.
This year, McDonald’s will close more restaurants than it opens in the U.S. — something that hasn’t happened since at least 1970, according to regulatory filings reviewed by the Associated Press.
In fact, this may very well be the first time ever that McDonald’s has shrunk its national footprint, since the company didn’t include a store count in its annual report for 1969.
Still, things could be much worse. The store closings represent only a small fraction of the roughly 14,300 McDonald’s locations in the United States, and the fast-food giant still has more than twice as many locations as its closest competitor, Burger King.
According to former chief communications officer Mike Donahue, this year’s closures seem to be an attempt to trim the fat: closing underperforming stores to create a stronger base of core locations. “What they’re doing is pruning the tree,” Donahue told the AP in a recent interview.
McDonald’s also has plans to add 300 more stores around the world, bringing its global total to over 36,000.
Read the full story from USA Today.