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Foreign Markets Boost McDonald's February Same-Store Sales

New York -- McDonald's Corp. reported a reported a 4.8 percent rise in February sales at established restaurants as strong overseas results offset softness in the United States, according to a Reuters report.

Weather and high unemployment numbers in the United States hammered domestic results that showed sales at restaurants open at least 13 months rose 0.6 percent. In contrast, same-store sales were up 5.4 percent in Europe and 10.5 percent in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region. The report noted Chinese New Year celebrations in many overseas markets boosted sales.

Japan, China and Australia were particularly strong, the company said.

In comparison, McDonald's January same-store sales fell 0.7 percent in the United States, while those in Europe and in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region both rose 4.3 percent.

It appears the trade-down effect that initially benefited many fast-food chains is no longer strong enough to offset slower spending by young men and minority groups, who account for a large number of fast-food customers and have unemployment rates higher than the overall U.S. jobless rates.

Earlier this year, the burger chain surprised analysts by announcing a 1-percent increase in U.S. comparable sales for December after two months of declines.
"Our worldwide results for February show that we're satisfying the needs of our customers around the world by giving them more choice and variety, unbeatable value and the convenience they're looking for given today's busy lifestyles," said McDonald's Chief Executive Officer Jim Skinner.

According to Skinner, U.S. comparable sales in February were driven by strong consumer demand for core favorites, including an Olympic-themed Chicken McNugget promotion, the Breakfast Dollar Menu and McCafe beverages.

In Europe, comparable sales were led by France, the U.K. and many other markets. Across Europe, performance benefited from core and seasonal products that offer value at all price tiers of the menu, the company said.

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