McDonald’s $5 menu is out – and people are not happy

McDonald’s customers in the United States are not happy with the catch that has come with the anticipated $5 Meal Deal that the fast food chain is launching to lure customers back to stores amid an inflation-driven, cost-of-living crisis.

The menu for the newly announced promotion is rumoured to include, according to CNBC, four items for $5 – a McChicken or McDouble, four-piece chicken nuggets, fries and a drink – however, there is a catch.

The $5 meal deal will be running from 25 June, but the offer will only last around one month, according to a source familiar with the offer telling the outlet.

More Americans have been opting to eat at home due to high rates of inflation which has directly affected the price of fast food. A standard McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal now costs an estimated $11.99 – up from $5.39 a decade ago, according to personal finance site FinanceBuzz.

McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said that the company had to be “laser-focussed on affordability”, on a recent earnings call.

"I think it’s important to recognise that all income cohorts are seeking value," Mr Kempczinski said. “What we don’t have in the US right now is a national value platform.”

However, some consumers have been disappointed with the news that the promotion will only last one month, despite what the CEO said about recognising differing income.

“Doesn’t sound like much of a commitment to its customers to me. Putting it on the menu and leaving it there sounds like a commitment,” one X user said, reacting to the news.

Another user said it was “almost like a slap in the face to consumers to dangle a $5 meal in front of us for only a limited time – when for all of time until recently, you could get all that food for $5 ALL the time.”

Someone else questioned, “Why even bother then?” if the promotion will only last a very limited time.

McDonald’s new $5 meal deal is reported to come with a burger, chicken nuggets, fries and a drink (Getty Images)
McDonald’s new $5 meal deal is reported to come with a burger, chicken nuggets, fries and a drink (Getty Images)

Many people on social media also compared this new $5 deal to fast food competitor Wendy’s $5 ‘Biggie bag’ that includes a similar number and type of items.

“So McDonald’s is doing a 5 dollar meal deal for one month,” another X user wrote. “Won’t help unless they make it permanent because Wendy’s already has multiple meal deals starting at 5 dollars. So unless McDonald’s makes it permanent, people will go to Wendy’s for the meal deal.”

The fast-food giant’s global sales have slowed over the past year, according to Bloomberg.

The meal may include a McChicken or a McDouble along with fries and a drink, a source told Bloomberg. The Coca-Cola Company has also offered to put up funding to help roll out the deal.

McDonald’s shares rose 2.7 per cent on 10 May following the $5 Meal Deal news, its highest daily increase since January 2023.

Others are not too happy with the pricing of the limited menu, with one X user stating, “It used to be a dollar menu. Inflation has just gotten started.”

“I remember a cheeseburger being 39 cents... and I am not that old...,” another said.

However, the company looks likely to face significant problems convincing US franchise owners to roll out the offer. Earlier this year, 95 per cent of franchisees rejected the $5 Meal Deal due to concern over further loss of earnings.

This was particularly an issue for McDonald’s branches in California where a new law means that fast-food workers must be paid at least $20 an hour.

After that law took effect in April, fast-food outlets across the state have hiked prices.

In a statement to CNBC posted Wednesday, McDonald’s said, “We know how much it means to our customers when McDonald’s offers meaningful value and communicates it through national advertising. That’s been true since our very beginning and never more important than it is today.”