McDonald's will close more US locations than it opens this year for what the AP reports is "the first time in more than 40 years, and perhaps ever." While it isn't clear how many of the chain's 14,300 American stores will close, a rep says reduction will be "minimal," with both franchised and company-owned locations shutting their doors to help set up future growth. The company previously announced about 700 of its 36,000 locations around the world would close this year and another 1,000 would open, notes the Washington Post.
Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show no evidence of an annual reduction in US locations since the company was founded in 1955, though a 1969 filing was missing, reports the AP. The move isn't necessarily a bad sign for McDonald's, which has twice as many locations as the next principal burger chain, Burger King. Starbucks closed hundreds of locations in the US in 2008, for example, and later expanded with steady sales growth. A former communications officer for McDonald's simply says "what they're doing is pruning the tree." (See what else McDonald's is doing to cope with struggling sales.)