NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald's says a key sales figure dropped again in January as the world's biggest hamburger chain struggled to grow in the U.S. and saw a severe decline in Asia.
The Oak Brook, Ill.-based company said global sales at restaurants open at least 13 months dropped 1.9 percent for the month. The figure is a key metric because it strips out the volatility of newly opened and closed locations.
After years of outperforming rivals, McDonald's has been struggling amid intensifying competition and challenging economic conditions around the world. Late last year, the company ousted the head of its U.S. business after the sales figure dropped for the first time in nearly a decade. CEO Don Thompson, who took the top spot this summer, has vowed to add business by emphasizing value while planning a series of new limited-time offers to attract customers.
But Thompson also warned last month that sales were trending negative for January. The company was also up against a tough comparison from a year ago, when global sales rose 6.7 percent.
In the region encompassing Asia, the Middle East and Africa, McDonald's said its sales sank 9.5 percent in January. The company is facing particular difficulty in Japan, where it says customers have been eating at home more often since the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. It also recently shifted its marketing strategy to focus on staples like the Big Mac and breakfast, rather than promotional items such as the "Big America Series" from a year ago. The sales figure fell 17 percent as a result.