The coronavirus pandemic that has closed restaurants worldwide slammed McDonald's (MCD 0.32%) in March, as the restaurant reported global same-store sales plummeted 22% for the month compared to the year-ago period.
While all of the fast-food giant's markets were affected, its stores in the U.S. actually held up the best, as comps were down just 13.4% for the month. That's likely due to their having the most developed system of drive-through windows, takeout service, and third-party delivery options.
Worst hit were its stores across Australia, Canada, Europe, and Russia, which saw comps tumble nearly 35% year over year. Not only do they have limited alternatives for serving customers, but several markets including France, the U.K., Spain, and Italy have completely closed all restaurants.
In comparison, restaurants in China, where the coronavirus originated, as well as in Japan and Brazil, saw a 19% drop in comps for March. However, because the country was struck first and recovered, 98% of the McDonald's restaurants in China are operational again.
A chance for a rebound
Perhaps not surprisingly, McDonald's two-month comps across January and February were positive in all markets, which allowed its first-quarter performance to be not nearly as bad as might be expected, considering March's decline.
The fast-food chain said comps were down 3.4% for the quarter, compared to a 5.4% gain a year ago, but it was due to the sharp drops in international markets that led same-store sales to turn negative. U.S. comps actually ended up 0.1% for the first quarter.
McDonald's reports 99% of its U.S. restaurants remain operational while 75% of its developing markets remain so. In Europe, 45% of its restaurants are operational.