Never Mind All-Day Breakfast, McDonald's May Do U.S. Delivery

McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) CEO Don Thompson is making headlines for saying his chain "would consider" serving breakfast items all day, but the fast-food giant has teased that before, according to USA Today. A potentially bigger change: Home delivery from some U.S. McDonald's restaurants.

"Delivery is a big, big opportunity, particularly in areas where you don't have drive-throughs," Thompson said in a CNBC interview on Friday (April 26). The chain already offers delivery in about 20 percent of its outlets, mostly in Africa and Asia. In several large Chinese cities, the delivery charge is about $1 and food is typically delivered in roughly 15 minutes.

In the U.S., delivery is limited to a handful of McDonald's in large cities, including 10 in Manhattan. However, competition is heating up: Burger King (NYSE:BKW) is already running delivery tests in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami and Houston.

It's easy to understand why an all-day breakfast menu gets the headlines—there's obvious appeal to any customer who doesn't sleep conventional hours. But McDonald's hinted in 2006 that it might institute 24-hour breakfast, and never actually made the change, which would involve reconfiguring kitchens.

Delivery, on the other hand, would advance the ongoing trend of same-day delivery in the U.S. for items other than pizza. Despite trials by retailers ranging from Walmart (NYSE:WMT) and Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) to Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), retailers still don't have a clear picture of how delivery pricing and service should work. Early experiments in non-food e-commerce deliveries have sketched in a sense of how much short-run deliveries will cost, but not how much customers will pay and when they'll want deliveries made.

If McDonald's—which has extensive delivery experience across much of the globe—actually goes wide with it in the U.S., that would unlock a much larger trove of data, especially for items on the low end of the price spectrum. Will that happen? For the moment, that's still just an opportunity.

For more:

- See this USA Today story

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