March 31, 2015 3:55 pm
Updated: March 31, 2015 4:12 pm

Sorry Canada, McDonald’s won’t bring all-day breakfast here (yet)

McDonald's has been considering extending breakfast hours at U.S. locations for the past several years, experts say.

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

For those with fanciful wishes such as enjoying a coffee and Egg McMuffin in the hours after 11 a.m., it remains just so. A fantasy. At least here.

McDonald’s Canada confirmed on Tuesday not a single location across a chain of 1,400 restaurants from coast to coast will follow the example being set next month by San Diego-area locations who are giving customers something they’ve never seen before: all-day breakfast options.

“A test is being done in the U.S. market and not in Canada,” a spokesperson for McDonald’s Canada said.

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The world’s largest fast food operator is trialing an all-day breakfast menu at select U.S. locations starting in April as it looks to move quickly to rejuvenate itself. Sales have been slumping for the past two years in the United States, prompting the company’s former leader to step down in January.

MORE: As more Canadians pass on fast food, McDonald’s tries to get fitter 

The new guy, Steve Easterbrook, is exploring all options to arrest the slide, experts say, which has led him to the all-day breakfast experiment. It won’t be without challenges, observers say. And McDonald’s knows this.

“Our grills just aren’t big enough for breakfast and lunch,” a tweet from the official McDonald’s Twitter account conceded in February.

But customers have long requested that McDonald’s extend breakfast past its traditional end-point of 11 a.m., when the majority of locations switch to making lunch fare only.

Reports don’t reveal much about how stores will make room for both the burger and breakfast menus. But the prolonged slump is forcing McDonald’s to accommodate the wish in a bid to attract more customers throughout the day.

Canadian sales

Sales at Canadian locations are performing better than U.S. restaurants, experts say. But with industry-wide growth of only about 1 per cent according to research from NPD Group, fast-food chains risk stagnating as smaller, fresher rivals pile into the market place.

Fast-casual chains like Five Guys and Hero Certified Burger are pulling traditional sales away from McDonalds Canada, experts say.

Chief Canadian rival Tim Hortons is also eating into McDonald’s lunchtime and post-lunch sales, experts say, introducing menu items such as a new crispy chicken sandwich that are attracting customers across multiple “day parts.”

MORE: Tim Hortons ready for international stage, new owners say

At a conference last week, Josh Kobza, a Tim Hortons executive, said one of the things that’s become unique to the doughnut chain in Canada is its ability to attract customers around the clock – no longer seen by patrons as predominantly a morning destination.

Those factors have McDonald’s Canada weighing its own changes, experts say.

“I can tell you that McDonald’s Canada is constantly evolving our offerings to meet the needs and wants of our customers,” spokesperson Michelle Yao said. “We … look forward to the learnings from this U.S. market test.”

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