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McDonald's Customer Traffic Bounces Back, But It's Not Back to Normal Yet

Visitors are still spending 10% less time inside the restaurants than they had pre-pandemic.

While the pandemic saw fewer people visit McDonald's (MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation Report, the number of customers coming into the restaurants for a Big Mac is bouncing back quickly.

November visits to McDonald's restaurants across the country were down only 1.9% from 2019 — in January, they were down 33%,  according to a recent foot traffic report from Placer.ai.

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Visits have been rising quickly and, in October, were even up 3.8%. But, according to the research company, the fast-food chain is still far from a full recovery: with many people trying to minimize exposure to the coronavirus, the median visit is down 10% from 29 minutes in 2019 to 26 minutes in 2021.

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"The share of weekday visits has also decreased since 2019, which may be due to the stickiness of the 'work from home' and hybrid work models due to which fewer people are out and about mid-week looking for convenient dining options," the company wrote.

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With more people working from home, breakfast and lunch traffic has also taken a hit: while 49.8% of McDonald's daily visits took place before 3 p.m. in 2019, that number is now at 45.4%. Along with the pandemic, those numbers can also be related to the lack of new breakfast options at a time when competitors like Wendy's ( (WEN) - Get Wendy's Company Report) spent a significant part of 2021 revamping its breakfast menu.

This, however, is not playing a significant role in foot traffic but simply moving many visits to later in the day. Overall, the company is nearing where it stood pre-pandemic —  in the last year,  (MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation Report stock has stayed relatively stable with a rise of 0.22% to $269.17.