Why People Aren’t Happy About McDonald’s New $5 Meal

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: May 17, 2024

When news first broke that McDonald’s was considering offering a more affordable meal for only $5, many fast food customers were thrilled at the idea. Fast food meals have become increasingly expensive for many throughout the United States.

However, public opinion of McDonald’s new $5 meal quickly went from positive to incredibly negative. Now, many are calling out the fast food giant for their recent moves.

A New $5 McDonald’s Meal Deal

McDonald’s used to be known as one of the cheapest fast-food establishments in the entire country. However, in recent years, meals at the eatery have risen in price.

A close-up of a McDonald’s coffee cup on a couch’s arm.

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This led many of McDonald’s lower-income customers to begin to eat elsewhere — something the fast food company’s CEO even realized. As a result of this change in consumer behavior, reporting revealed that McDonald’s was working on creating a $5 meal deal.


Why Customers Stopped Going to McDonald’s

Higher menu prices aren’t the only reason why many loyal McDonald’s customers ceased going to the fast food giant.

A McDonald’s location seen in the daytime in California by an American flag.

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The entire country is continuing to deal with high inflation, which is impacting the prices at fast-food eateries and grocery stores. Higher cost of living crises seen in many states have also led to less traffic at McDonald’s locations.

The Creation of a New $5 Meal

Many customers have lamented that they can no longer spend only $5 at McDonald’s and get a meal. They have to spend much more than $10, which has become unaffordable for many.

A close-up of McDonald’s fries in a red container.

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McDonald’s creation of a $5 meal deal is in response to this. These more affordable meals will revolve around either a McChicken, a McDouble, or a four-piece of chicken nuggets. Fries and a drink will also be included in the meal.

A Limited Time Offer

Once McDonald’s officially announced that they were going ahead with this new $5 meal, customers were excited — until they learned more about what the company was doing.

A McDonald’s bag, drink, and a red carton of fries on wooden planks.

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According to those in the know at McDonald’s, the $5 meal isn’t here to stay. Instead, this cheaper alternative will only be available for a limited time. The deal will start to be offered on June 25, and then it will also be around for about one month.

McDonald’s Customers Blast $5 Meal

This quickly led to some online outrage from many McDonald’s customers who were previously happy about their $5 meal idea.

A look at the front door of a modern McDonald’s building.

Source: TaurusEmerald/Wikimedia Commons

Many customers feel slighted by the company, as they aren’t adding a cheaper meal option permanently. Instead, they are only offering it as a limited-time deal, which many feel defeats their purpose of trying to offer customers a more affordable meal.


A Lack of Commitment?

Some customers online have pointed out that this temporary offer doesn’t make it seem like McDonald’s is serious about catering to its customers who want cheaper meal options.

A close-up of a McDonald’s burger in a tray.

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One user on X wrote, “Doesn’t sound like much of a commitment to its customers to me. Putting it on the menu and leaving it there sounds like a commitment.”


McDonald’s vs Competitors

Other users pointed out that McDonald’s isn’t going to bring in more customers with this limited-time deal, as other fast food giants like Wendy’s have cheaper meals. Notably, these more affordable meals are permanent additions to their menu.

An exterior of a Wendy’s in California seen in the daytime.

Source: TaurusEmerald/Wikimedia Commons

Another X user wrote, “So McDonald’s is doing a 5 dollar meal deal for one month. Won’t help unless they make it permanent because Wendy’s already has multiple meal deals starting at 5 dollars. So unless McDonald’s makes it permanent, people will go to Wendy’s for the meal deal.”


Why Can’t the $5 Meal Last?

Other customers took to social media to wonder why this $5 meal deal couldn’t last for longer than one month.

A close-up of McDonald’s chicken nuggets.

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One X user explained that McDonald’s limited-time offer was “almost like a slap in the face to consumers to dangle a $5 meal in front of us for only a limited time – when for all of time until recently, you could get all that food for $5 ALL the time.”


McDonald’s Struggles To Connect

This almost immediate backlash to McDonald’s limited-time $5 meal deal further shows just how much McDonald’s has struggled to connect with consumers in recent years.

A close-up of a modern McDonald’s sign on a building.

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However, McDonald’s and their CEO Chris Kempczinski have recognized that the company needs to make some changes — and soon.


Focusing on Affordability

Recently, when on an earnings call, Kempczinski explained that McDonald’s needed to be “laser-focused on affordability.”

A close-up of a McDonald’s Big Mac box.

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This attempt to create a $5 meal deal seems to be a part of their quest to show their loyal customers that they are still the affordable fast food establishment they used to be known as.


Bringing in More Customers

McDonald’s wants to bring in more customers, especially more lower-income customers, or those who don’t want to spend a lot of money on meals at their restaurants.

A close-up of a McDonald’s sign seen underneath a blue sky.

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“I think it’s important to recognize that all income cohorts are seeking value,” Kempczinski said. “What we don’t have in the US right now is a national value platform.”