Fast Food Scrooge: McDonald's Asks Franchisees to Open on Christmas

McDonald's open on ChristmasIt's not just retailers pushing to get their employees on the clock during the holidays.

Now, McDonald's (MCD) is turning heads by asking its franchisees to open on Christmas Day.

"Ensure your restaurants are open throughout the holidays," McDonald's USA COO Jim Johannesen wrote in a memo before Thanksgiving that was published by Advertising Age.

Many franchisees complied, breaking from tradition by opening on Thanksgiving. Now the company wants to make sure that they are flipping burgers and scooping fries on Dec. 25, too.

"Our largest holiday opportunity as a system is Christmas Day," Johannesen writes, arguing that the average company-owned restaurant that opened last Christmas raked in $5,500 in sales. That's a lot of McRibs and eggnog shakes that wouldn't be sold if the world's largest restaurant operator stayed closed.

But who's calling the shots here: Ronald McDonald or Ebenezer Scrooge?

No Time to Give Thanks

Asking employees to come to work on a holiday got Walmart (WMT) and many of its department store chain rivals some unfriendly attention last month.

Pushing Black Friday sales into early Thursday evening cut into Thanksgiving dinner plans for employees and shoppers.

Even though many retailers were offering those who volunteered to come in 150 percent of their usual hourly wages -- and the move was done to ultimately provide customers more time to shop -- Walmart took plenty of heat for the decision.

Will McDonald's face similar criticism?

Would You Like Some Mistletoe with that Big Mac?

It's important to note that McDonald's isn't telling franchisees that they have to be open. The world's largest restaurant operator -- with 34,000 restaurants feeding 69 million customers daily -- is leaving it up to its owner-operators.

However, it's easy to see why it wants them to drum up sales on a day when most chains are closed.

The burger giant posted a year-over-year decline in monthly same-store sales in October -- the first time Mickey D's has done that in nine years. Investors were surprised by November's bounce back, but at least a small part of that rebound can be credited to having more of its units open on Thanksgiving.

One would expect that opening on Christmas would boost December sales -- unless a barrage of negative publicity around the move drives away more customers than the extra day of sales lures in.

It's not pretty when "buy hamburgers" becomes "bah humbug."

After giving investors beefy returns in 2011, McDonald's has been one of the worst performing blue-chip stocks this year. The Motley Fool's top analyst on the company will tell you whether you should be worried by this trend, and he'll shed light on whether McDonald's is a buy at today's prices.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Aristotle Munarriz has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of McDonald's. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend McDonald's.

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I'd much rather my employees be at home w family just as I am. YEAH, some w dysfunctional families might not care (as much) AND I love a buck as much as the next small businessperson does, but a well-earned Holiday day off is a core value to maintain (and if not well-earned why are they still working for you?)

January 20 2013 at 10:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

asking franchisiees to open it's more like order. you stay closed and when your franchise come up for renewal your out. they call the shot and you march. i had franchise and (not mcdonalds) i saw franchisee put out for not doing thing they wanted and they were better at running business than they were and work way over 40 hour a week too. the big in america mess over the little guy alot

December 19 2012 at 9:09 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Richard,,,,Yes,,I do own alot of small stocks,,,I have worked hard to have what I have....I buy and sell for profit,,,
You are in this world,,,one time,,,,,make the best out of it.....
Moaning and growning,,,will not help......HAVE A HAPPY SIDE OF LIFE.......Say,,,Good Morning as you approach the world......Say,,,,Have a Blessed Day as you walk during the day.....

December 19 2012 at 4:10 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

trash site

December 19 2012 at 3:52 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

DO you call your local hospital ,,,SCROOGE.!!!!!???????? Do you call the police SCROOGE.?????
Do not worry,,,the GREAT LEADER ..OBAMA will take care of you......
You stupid,,,dumb people.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A bussiness is a bussiness....If you had one,,,you would be open too.!!!!
Why has the public,,in the last 4 years,,growed to hate people who work hard to have something.????
It is sad,,,,,how sad,,,the new generation has become,,and,,wait for there children to grow up...

December 19 2012 at 2:32 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to pdbliz's comment

oh my goodness mcdonalds is as important as the police and hospitals which you probably
will need after eating that junk food.

December 19 2012 at 3:52 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Thank all of you for negitives,,,I must be telling the TRUTH.!!!!!!


December 19 2012 at 4:06 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Sonic is open on Christmas so are other places, why not McDonald's...

December 19 2012 at 1:05 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Snow's comment

Sheila,,Thanks for a good post.......Todays generation has gone nuts......They hate anyone and everone that wants to earn a living or get ahead......

December 19 2012 at 2:33 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to pdbliz's comment

Bet you don't even eat at McDonald's and you probably own stock in that junk food business.

December 19 2012 at 3:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

I don't eat at McDonalds the other days of the year. Go ahead and open. Will not see me there. I'm still trying to figure out what kind of "meat" they use.

December 19 2012 at 12:46 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jimmyv033's comment

Soy - Kangaroo

December 19 2012 at 1:30 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Wht about the people who do not celebrate christmas , they complain about very thing.

December 19 2012 at 11:54 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Joan and David


December 19 2012 at 11:45 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Joan and David's comment

What about all the greedy people wanting Big Macs on Christmas ?

December 19 2012 at 11:51 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to coochiescooter's comment

I'll eat road kill before I set foot in a Mc Barf

December 19 2012 at 1:32 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down

That's a redneck for ya.

December 19 2012 at 1:59 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down

what about the people that ask to work for extra money.......

December 19 2012 at 2:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to pdbliz's comment

As long as they get paid time and a half for working on a holiday.

December 19 2012 at 2:48 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down

As long as they volunteer to work and get time & 1/2 pay , why not? Our service people in Afghanistan are not getting the day off!

December 19 2012 at 11:36 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply