McDonald's says it's lost 500 million customer transactions in the US since 2012 and plans to use deals to help win people back. The world's biggest burger chain said Wednesday during its investor day in Chicago that much of that business was lost after it did away with its Dollar Menu, the AP reports. It noted an upside was that the majority of those customer visits were lost to other major fast-food chains, rather than to newer rivals. "Those are the easiest customers to get back," said CEO Steve Easterbrook, who took over in March 2015 and has been working to revive the company's image. McDonald's outlined its plans after recording its fourth straight year of declining guest counts at established US locations in 2016, despite fanfare over the rollout of an all-day breakfast menu. The company also trimmed its domestic store base for the second year in a row.
To get more customers in the door, McDonald's said it will also more aggressively market coffee and pastries and offer mobile order-and-pay by the end of the year. Easterbrook also noted the huge potential of delivery and that 75% of the population in the company's top five markets—including the US—is within three miles of a McDonald's. McDonald's is being pressured not just from other fast-food giants like Burger King and Taco Bell, but from newer rivals that largely emphasize freshness and taste, as well as the availability of food at convenience stores like 7-Eleven and supermarkets. McDonald's, meanwhile, has touted the changes it's making to improve its core menu, such as cooking its Chicken McNuggets without artificial preservatives. In the near future, the company plans to launch a limited-time offer in April for $1 sodas of any size, which may offer a quick fix to bring customers in.