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A worker disinfects a McDonald's restaurant in Leicester, U.K., on June 30, 2020.

Molly Darlington/Reuters

McDonald’s Corp global sales improved in the third quarter versus the second quarter, down just 2.2 per cent year-over-year, as drive-thru orders surged and special promotions lifted sales to double-digit percentage increases in September, the company said on Thursday.

Comparable sales had plunged nearly 24 per cent the previous quarter as dining rooms shut and U.S. customers stayed home during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.

Amid the uncertainty earlier this year about the outbreak and its impact on operations, the Chicago-based burger chain held back on advertising spending but has now begun to deploy that stash of cash in national campaigns.

Story continues below advertisement

In mid-September, it launched a limited-time promotional deal with rapper Travis Scott and quickly began to run out of ingredients to assemble its signature Quarter Pounder sandwich, which was featured in the meal.

It also added Spicy Chicken McNuggets and ran special offers for National Cheeseburger Day.

Global results were driven by positive momentum in the United States, where same-store sales rose 4.6 per cent in the quarter ended Sept. 30, according to the financial filing.

However, sales lagged in France, Spain, Germany and the UK.

Internationally licensed markets also fell 10.1 per cent, pulled lower by Latin America and China though partly offset by positive sales in Japan.

On Wednesday, McDonald’s board approved a 3 per cent quarterly dividend increase for shareholders to $1.29 per share of common stock, the filing said.

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.

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