McDonald’s $5 Meal Deal Sparks Outrage in Restaurant Community

By: Georgia | Published: May 22, 2024

This summer, McDonald’s rolls out a tempting $5 meal deal to win back customers turned off by recent price surges. 

You can get a McDouble or McChicken, small fries, a drink, and McNuggets for five dollars. But it’s not all smooth sailing; some franchisees are worried whether this low price is actually sustainable.

Franchisee Concerns: Squeezed Margins Ahead

Concern is brewing among McDonald’s franchisees as they brace for the $5 meal offer. 

Advertisement
A McDonald's restaurant lit up at night. The restaurant has a yellow exterior with red roofs and golden arches. There is a drive-thru lane and a parking lot in front of the restaurant

Source: Visual Karsa/Unsplash

In a letter They’re sounding the alarm over the thin profit margins, reported between 10 to 15 percent, fearing these deals could bleed them dry without stronger support from McDonald’s headquarters.

Advertisement

Who Can Get the $5 Box?

While the deal sounds great, not every McDonald’s will serve up the $5 special. 

Advertisement
A close-up of a hamburger in a cardboard box. The hamburger is on a bed of lettuce and has a sesame seed bun, beef patty, cheese, tomato, onion, and ketchup

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Factors like higher labor costs and pricier rents mean some spots will have to skip the promotion. If your local McDonald’s is in a pricier area, you might miss out on this wallet-friendly option.

A Tough Call for Owners

In their plea for more corporate backing, franchisees have been clear.

Advertisement
A McDonald's restaurant with a colorful sunset in the background. The sky is ablaze with orange, pink, and purple hues. The McDonald's sign is lit up and the restaurant itself is bathed in the warm glow of the sunset

Source: Boshoku/Unsplash

The National Owners Association reveals the tension over this deal in a letter, saying,  “The fact remains that in order to provide the consumer with more affordable options, they must be affordable for the owner/operators.” 

Catch It While You Can: Limited Time Only

If you’re eyeing this deal, mark your calendar. Initially hoped to last the whole summer, the $5 meal will only be around for a month starting June 25

Advertisement
A red cardboard box filled with chicken nuggets and french fries

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This shorter span could limit the promotion’s ability to boost foot traffic significantly.

Who’s Paying for Your Discount?

Despite raking in $14.5 billion last year, McDonald’s isn’t shouldering the cost of the deal alone. 

A McDonald's sign on the side of a building. The sign is red and yellow with white lettering

Source: Nicolás Varela/Unsplash

Coca Cola is pitching in with a $4.6 million boost, while franchisees are also contributing, showing a joint effort to bring you this bargain meal.

Advertisement

A Nationwide First

For the first time in decades, McDonald’s is offering a deal at a uniform price across the U.S.

A close-up photo of a lit-up McDonald's sign at night. The McDonald's logo, consisting of two golden arches, is at the center of the sign

Source: Brett Jordan/Unsplash

This is a departure from the usual practice where franchisees adjust prices based on local economics.

Advertisement

Franchisees Rally Behind the $5 Deal

Despite the financial jitters, McDonald’s franchisees collectively voted last week to green-light the $5 deal. 

A close-up photo of a lit-up McDonald's sign at night. The McDonald's logo, consisting of two golden arches, is at the center of the sig

Source: Joshua Austin/Unsplash

They’re keen to draw in more customers, even if it means tightening their belts to support the campaign.

Advertisement

Will McDonald's Chip In?

The financial dynamics of the deal are still murky. 

A group of people gathering outside of a McDonald's storefront

Source: samir yasif/Unsplash

Franchisees have signaled a clear need for corporate intervention: “There simply is not enough profit to discount 30% for this model to be sustainable. It necessitates a financial contribution by McDonald’s,” they stress in their letter.

Advertisement

A Strategy to Regain Customer Favor

This new $5 deal is McDonald’s strategy to lure back diners daunted by soaring prices.

A person holding a McDonald's Big Mac sandwich and French Fries

Source: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

Some locations have seen a Big Mac meal climb to as much as $19, pushing it out of reach for many.

Advertisement

Beyond Fast Food: Rival Deals Surface

As McDonald’s tries to pull back fast-food lovers, casual dining spots like Chili’s and Applebee’s are also in the mix, tempting diners with their own $10 burger deals. 

An Applebee's restaurant exterior with a red and white striped awning and an American flag flying in front of it

Source: Wikimedia Commons

It’s becoming a crowded field for those chasing affordable meals.

Advertisement

A Decade of Price Jumps

A look back over the last ten years shows a steep climb in McDonald’s prices, with some items now costing double their past prices. 

A McDonald's sign with yellow arches and red background, mounted on a tall building in a city

Source: Declan Sun/Unsplash

In one shocking instance, a Big Mac meal was tagged at $17.59 pre-tax, highlighting the broader economic pressures that franchises face in pricing their menus.

Advertisement