By Ashley M. Heher, AP Retail Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — McDonald's Corp. will begin selling a variety of breakfast items for $1 early next month, a spokeswoman for the world's largest hamburger chain said Thursday.
The move to add to its already popular dollar menu comes as McDonald's tries to fight a decline in U.S. sales, which have slipped following months of success when its cheap eats were a big draw for recession-strapped diners.
On tap to be added to the menu, which already includes eight items for lunch and dinner time, are the company's Sausage McMuffin, a sausage burrito, a sausage biscuit, a small coffee and a hash brown.
Some of the items are already sold for a dollar or less at some locations, although prices vary.
Spokeswoman Danya Proud said some restaurants selling the items for less than $1 will likely make substitutions. That allows a restaurant already selling a small coffee for 89 cents to substitute a larger beverage for its Dollar Menu, she said.
Most fast-food restaurants, which spent recent years expand their early morning business, have seen a decline in breakfast diners as unemployment climbs and fewer workers stop in for coffee and a breakfast sandwich on their way to the office.
According to market research firm NPD Group, breakfast traffic fell 2% this summer at the nation's fast food restaurants.
But at McDonald's breakfast business is continuing to increase, although growth has slowed this year, Proud said.
"We have continued to grow, just not at the growth we've experienced in the past," she said.
The company has not publicly provided specific figures on its breakfast sales.
R.J. Hottovy, a restaurant analyst at Morningstar, said Thursday's move should McDonald's strengthen its breakfast business, in which it is still dominant among fast-food chains.
"Most firms realize breakfast represents a way to add incremental revenue," he said. "I don't think that's changed, but you have to make that a little more affordable in the current environment."
A dollar breakfast menu also puts pressure on McDonald's competitors, many of whom are also rushing to slash menu prices to keep customers — and their wallets — happy.
Dunkin Donuts is trying out a 99-cent breakfast menu in Chicago. And Burger King's nationwide breakfast value menu that includes hash browns, a ham omelet sandwich and three french toast sticks for $1 each.
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