The supersized recession that was a boon for business last year caught up further with McDonald's Corp. in November, as high unemployment ate into sales.
While the world's largest burger chain is still faring better than its competitors, who've increasingly been pushing value menus and discounts of their own, the restaurant's fortunes likely won't improve unless the U.S. economy does.
"I think ultimately, we'll need job growth to get things turned around to get back in the positive territory," said Morningstar restaurant analyst R.J. Hottovy.
On Tuesday, McDonald's said sales at restaurants open at least a year fell 0.6 percent in the U.S. It was the second consecutive monthly decline for the measure, an important indicator of a restaurant chain's health, and a steeper fall than October's 0.1 percent.
November's overseas results were better but still mixed, helped by a softening dollar that translated foreign revenue into more dollars. Around the globe, sales in locations open at least a year rose 0.7 percent.
Because of its size and its ability to trounce competitors with its increasingly popular dollar menu, McDonald's was one of the early beneficiaries of the recession as diners traded down from pricier restaurants. In fact, last November, sales in locations open a year climbed 4.5 percent in the U.S. and 7.7 globally.
But earlier this fall, McDonald's cautioned it wasn't immune to the recession, either, and in October, the U.S. figure fell 0.1 percent.
Tuesday's results were only the fourth U.S. decrease in 6 1/2 years.