The Real Reason McDonald's Suspended Its All-Day Breakfast

McDonald's, like any other restaurant, has been pretty hard-hit lately, what with having to close down its dining rooms to protect against the spread of COVID-19. The company has continued to offer drive-through and delivery services, though — a move which many feel does not go quite far enough to protect customers or employees (an attempt by McDonald's in Brazil to alter their logo as a sign of support for everyone affected by the disease was not well received in light of this), and which has undoubtedly made things a lot tougher for the business.

While McDonald's in the U.S. shows no signs of going the route the company's UK-based locations took (closing down for the duration), they have made one significant change which is meant to help streamline operations a bit while operating under conditions that are anything but "business as usual" for everyone. The major move they're making? Breakfast all day will no longer be offered all day — instead, the Golden Arches will back to serving breakfast items only during the morning hours, as they did up until the all-day menu made its debut several years ago.

What does dropping all-day breakfast mean for the chain and its customers?

This move makes sense for McDonald's, since simplifying operations makes things easier on employees. There's also some benefit in it for customers who dislike long waits in drive-through lines, since as Inc. points out, having fewer choices means minds are made up more quickly. The ones who stand to gain the most, however, may be the investors. (Of course! Isn't it always all about them?) While all-day breakfast was very popular, the actual data collected showed that that move wasn't really profitable for McDonald's. Customers who really, really wanted Sausage McGriddles were just coming in later in the day, which resulted in an overall loss of morning traffic and an increase in afternoon/evening customers ordering cheaper items off the breakfast menu.

When McDonald's USA tweeted that they would be "put[ting] a hold on ADB," company president Joe Erlinger channeled the Terminator by adding, "All day breakfast's response to this news: 'I'll be back.'" That, however, remains to be seen. Business Insider reports that McDonald's will also be dropping several other items from the menu at the present time, including salads, grilled chicken sandwiches, and chicken tenders, although more popular items like Big Macs, hamburgers, quarter pounders, Filet-O-Fish, chicken nuggets, and fries will remain. 

There's some speculation that, even when things return to normal, McDonald's may wish to take advantage of its customers' readjusted post-crisis expectations by quietly dropping any less-profitable items we've learned to live without.