McDonald's Stays Warm

Though McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) sales might not outshine last year's turnaround, its comparable sales continued to sizzle, with May clocking in a 7.4% increase. Meanwhile, today an agreement came to light with SBC Communications (NYSE: SBC  ) , through which the fast-food company will install Wi-Fi connections in 6,000 of its stores.

May's increase may be a bit less exciting than the double-digit same-store increase last month, but it's still nothing to complain about. In total, McDonald's sales jumped 10.2% last month.

In separate news reports, there's word that McDonald's has entered into a Wi-Fi connection deal with SBC. Through the agreement, McDonald's customers who also happen to subscribe to the service will be able to bring their laptops and PDAs into the participating restaurants and hook up to the Internet to surf the Web or check email. To put it into perspective, it's not a huge deal, considering that there are a total of 30,000 McDonald's restaurants across the globe.

The move is reminiscent of other novel ways that McDonald's has been trying to attract and retain customers, though, in the past, we've discussed some of the reasons why McDonald's may not be an optimal placement for Wi-Fi. Using a wireless Internet connection to check on important work certainly seems a bit more conducive to customers of quieter, less messy venues, like Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) or Border's (NYSE: BGP  ) . (After all, do fries and mouse clicks really go hand and hand?)

The major beneficiary of the agreement seems to be SBC, which is spreading its Wi-Fi service through consumer channels. In March, it announced a similar deal with United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS  ) .

Meanwhile, though, McDonald's continues to break out of its high-fat, kid-centric reputation by offering some healthy menu items and different types of entertainment options to attract ever-expanding demographic groups. Many of us are waiting breathlessly to see what the summer -- and the rest of the year -- holds for Mickey D's. Last year's remarkable turnaround certainly will make it tougher for McDonald's to shine this time around, but if May's an indication, healthy customer traffic is still funneling through the Golden Arches.

Is McDonald's getting too far off its fast-food mission with some of its recent initiatives, like DVD rentals? Join the debate on the McDonald's discussion board now.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.


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