We knew that McDonald's would close more U.S. restaurants than it would open in 2015. Now, the numbers are in: Last year, McDonald's closed 154 domestic outlets, all of them company-operated (not franchised).
At the same time, the Golden Arches opened 63 new franchise locations in the country. It ended the year with a total 14,259 locations in the U.S, or 91 fewer than in 2014.
McDonald's spokesperson Becca Harry called the impact "minimal" compared to the more 14,000 restaurants it has across the country. "We consistently review our restaurant portfolio and make strategic decisions to better position our business for the future," she said in an email.
McDonald's has been pursuing a turnaround following years of declining U.S. comparable store sales. In mid-2015, sales at domestic stores open at least 13 months turned positive, and last quarter the chain saw the largest boost since 2012, largely as a result of launching all-day breakfast in October.
McDonald's breaks down its global business into four segments: U.S., International Lead, High Growth and Foundational markets. Of these segments, only the U.S. market ended 2015 with a net loss in stores. It remains the chain's largest market, representing about 39% of McDonald's 36,525 global restaurants.
It is unclear if McDonald's U.S. footprint will continue to shrink in 2016. The company wrote in a filing that it "expects to open about 1,000 restaurants" worldwide this year but will only have "net additions" of about 500 restaurants, meaning it will still close 500 underperforming locations, somewhere.
Venessa Wong is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Wong covers the food industry.
Contact Venessa Wong at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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