McDonald’s Attributes Missed Sales Target to Israel’s War in Gaza

Credits: HD Cuisines

In an unexpected turn of events, McDonald’s has attributed its failure to meet its first quarterly sales target in almost four years to Israel’s war in Gaza.

CEO Chris Kempczinski acknowledged on Monday that the conflict had a “disheartening” impact on sales in Middle Eastern countries and other Muslim-majority nations like Malaysia and Indonesia.

During a conference call, Kempczinski expressed the view that as long as the conflict persists, the company does not anticipate a significant improvement in sales. He noted the human tragedy of the ongoing war, emphasizing its weight on brands like McDonald’s.

McDonald’s Brand (Credits: HD Cuisines)

The sales growth for McDonald’s Middle East, China, and India division from October to December was a mere 0.7 percent, falling far short of market expectations, which were at 5.5 percent.

This decline in performance comes after customers in Muslim-majority countries called for a boycott of McDonald’s due to its Israeli franchisee donating thousands of free meals to the Israeli military.

McDonald’s Israel’s announcement prompted franchisees in various Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, and Turkey, to distance themselves from the donations. In a collective effort, they pledged millions of dollars in aid to Palestinians in Gaza.

While McDonald’s is widely recognized as one of the most iconic US brands, it’s essential to note that most of its restaurants globally are locally owned and operated. Kempczinski had previously highlighted that the war and “associated misinformation” were significantly impacting business in the region.

McDonald’s is not the only Western brand facing consequences due to perceived support for Israel. Starbucks, a popular cafe chain, recently lowered its annual sales forecast, citing a decline in business in the Middle East.

Despite these challenges in Muslim-majority countries, McDonald’s managed to post relatively strong overall results, with global sales growing by 3.4 percent. This, however, was lower compared to the previous quarter, where growth stood at 8.8 percent.

Kempczinski expressed confidence in the resilience of McDonald’s business amid macro challenges that are expected to persist in 2024.

The unique impact of geopolitical events on global brands highlights the complex interplay between political, social, and economic factors in shaping corporate performance and public perception.

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