McDonald’s to Franchisees: Merry Christmas. Now Open Your Stores

When McDonald’s Corp. stunned analysts last week by posting U.S. sales growth in November after a drop the prior month, one contributor went untouted: The company gained sales by urging franchisees to open on Thanksgiving, a holiday during which many of them traditionally close.

But it’s not stopping with Thanksgiving. According to an internal memo obtained by Ad Age, McDonald’s is pushing franchisees to open on Christmas in a bid to lift December sales.

“Starting with Thanksgiving, ensure your restaurants are open throughout the holidays,” reads the Nov. 8 memo from McDonald’s USA Chief Operating Officer Jim Johannesen. “Our largest holiday opportunity as a system is Christmas Day. Last year, (company-operated) restaurants that opened on Christmas averaged $5,500 in sales.”

While that might not seem like much, consider this: In a second memo, dated Dec. 12, Johannesen pegged average sales for company-owned restaurants, which compose about 10 percent of its system, at “more than $6,000” this Thanksgiving. People close to the Oak Brook-based company said that about 6,000 more locations opened their doors this Thanksgiving than last year, so presuming their sales were on par with company-owned stores, that’s about $36 million in additional sales.

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