McDonald’s Corp. said on Friday that February sales at its established restaurants around the world fell 1.5 per cent as customers grappled with economic uncertainty.
The decline in global sales at restaurants open at least 13 months was less steep than the 1.63-per-cent drop expected by analysts polled by Consensus Metrix.
Same-restaurant sales fell 3.3 per cent in the United States, less than the 3.55-per-cent drop analysts expected, according to Consensus Metrix.
Investors paid extra attention to results from the United States, where the Jan. 1 payroll tax hike, higher gas prices and delayed federal tax returns have hurt sales at restaurant chains and retailers ranging from Darden Restaurants Inc, the parent of Olive Garden, to Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Excluding the impact of an extra day in February 2012 due to the leap year, comparable sales were up 1.7 per cent globally and rose everywhere except the United States, where sales were flat.
In Europe, comparable sales fell 0.5 per cent, roughly in line with analysts’ target of a 0.46 per cent decline.
Comparable sales in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) dropped 1.6 per cent, a slightly better result than the 1.69 per cent fall analysts had anticipated.
Excluding the calendar shift, comparable sales rose 2.7 per cent in Europe and were up 1.5 per cent in APMEA.
By city, the place with the country’s highest unemployment rate is Peterborough, Ont., while Regina still has the lowest rate at 3.7 per cent.
Most of the gains were on the services side of the economy. Among the few areas of weakness, factories shed more than 25,000 jobs lost month, bringing employment to below last year’s levels. And – in a sign of a recent challenges in the sector – natural resources shed 6,000 positions.
Wage gains, though still muted, rose faster than the pace of inflation and hours worked also climbed.
“Up until today, economic indicators had suggested that the Canadian economy was sputtering,” noted Sonya Gulati, senior economist at TD Securities. “Today’s employment numbers put some of these concerns to bed.”