McDonald’s hopes the $5 value meal will win back price-conscious diners. Will it be too little, too late?

McDonald’s hopes the $5 value meal will win back price-conscious diners. Will it be too little, too late?

As consumers become more sensitive to fast-food sticker shock, the burger chain is responding with a temporary offer it hopes they can’t refuse.

BY Ellie Stevens

McDonald’s is releasing a new value meal on June 25 that will be on menus for a month. For just $5, customers will receive four items: a four-piece nugget, a McChicken or McDouble, small fries, and a small drink. 

The burger chain is joining a number of other restaurant chains that are releasing deals in response to decreased restaurant traffic, which comes as menu prices rise across the industry.

According to a study conducted by Finance Buzz, the average fast-food menu prices rose between 39% and 100% over the past 10 years, all of which are increases that have outpaced the 31% inflation during the time period. 

McDonald’s menu prices had the highest increase of any chain analyzed, doubling since 2014 across popular menu items. 

The burger chain refuted the data in this study, saying it was overinflated.

“This is not an accurate representation of historical or current pricing at McDonald’s restaurants, and the 2024 average prices listed are significantly inflated,” a McDonald’s spokesperson told Fast Company. “Value is part of McDonald’s DNA, and we’re committed to offering customers great value through everyday affordable pricing plus special offers and deals on our app and through the MyMcDonald’s Rewards program.” 

Let’s make a deal

McDonald’s says it has rolled out other deals in recent months, such as “Free Fries Friday,” where customers, at participating restaurants, can get an order of medium fries for free with any $1 or more purchase on the McDonald’s app. It also continues to offer meal bundles at 90% of its locations.

However, some customers may prove difficult to win back. The forthcoming $5 offer, for instance, has generated robust discussion on a “shrinkflation” subreddit, with a number of commenters pointing out that McDonald’s prices have been on the rise for some time.

Competitors have noticed too. In a recent interview with CNN, the CEO of Applebee’s suggested that consumers can now get a burger for the same price at sit-down establishments as they can at fast-food restaurants.

At an investor conference in March, McDonald’s chief financial officer conceded that some lower-income consumers are deciding to cook at home rather than buy McDonald’s, citing inflation, higher-interest rates, and dwindling savings as potential culprits, according to a report by CNN.

McDonald’s went on to miss same-store sales expectations in the first quarter. CNBC reported that while the higher prices are helping to grow average checks, some consumers are pulling back as a result of increased menu costs.

As these trends continue, time will tell if next month’s temporary offer will entice enough people back to the Golden Arches. 




Ellie Stevens is an Editorial Resident at Fast Company and an undergraduate at Northwestern University. 

Fast Company