According to Ad Age, which obtained some leaked internal memos from Golden Arches HQ, the push to stay open regardless of what the calendar says began almost immediately after the company announced a 2.2% decline in sales for October.
“Starting with Thanksgiving, ensure your restaurants are open throughout the holidays,” reads a memo sent on Nov. 8 by McDonald’s USA Chief Operating Officer to franchisees. “Our largest holiday opportunity as a system is Christmas Day. Last year, [company-operated] restaurants that opened on Christmas averaged $5,500 in sales.”
A follow-up memo from Dec. 12 claimed that company-owned restaurants (around 10% of stores in the U.S.) each took in “more than $6,000” by staying open on Thanksgiving.
While no one knows how much the franchised restaurants earned during Thanksgiving, Ad Age sources claim that the push convinced an additional 6,000 restaurants to remain open this year. The Thanksgiving openings were partly responsible for the 2.5% sales bump experienced during November.
“Thanks to proper planning and your great execution, we capitalized on the opportunity to be open while our customers were on the road,” reads the Dec. 12 memo, “and those customers rewarded us.”
One former franchisee says the push to stay open during the holidays is something that would not even have been mentioned not that long ago.
“Thanksgiving was never open. Then 15 to 16 years ago, some started staying open,” he tells Ad Age, adding that even when franchises began staying open on Thanksgiving around five years ago, “you would never even talk about being open on Christmas… For the franchisees, this is a big cultural shift.”
As for those who have to make customers’ Christmas McMuffins, McDonald’s says that those who work in company-owned stores do not receive any extra pay for working during the holiday.