Looking for a recharge? McDonald's says goodbye to self-service soft drinks

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Say goodbye to refilling that Coca-Cola. McDonald's is getting rid of self-serve sodas.

The Chicago-based fast-food chain plans to eliminate self-serve soda machines in its U.S. restaurants by 2032, McDonald's confirmed this week. It's unclear if locations outside the US will do the same.

In an email sent to The Associated Press on Tuesday, McDonald's USA said the goal of the change is to create consistency for customers and staff members across all of the chain's offerings, from in-person dining to online delivery and drive-thru options. .

The company did not specify whether any additional factors, such as finances or sanitation, affected the decision to part ways with its self-service machines. For years, McDonald's customers have used the machines to fill and refill their drinks without having to go to the cashier.

Over-the-counter soda machines already exist at some other fast-food chains, and a handful of McDonald's locations across the country have also begun the transition. According to The State Journal-Register, which reported for the first time On the company's plans last week, several locations in Illinois, for example, are beginning to phase out self-serve sodas.

In recent years, analysts have also pointed to changes in consumer behavior since the COVID-19 pandemic, including an increase in digital and online delivery sales among fast-food restaurants. As a result, some chains have toyed with improving drive-thrus or strengthening connections with food delivery apps, from Chipotle expanding its Carside pickup locations to Domino's signing a new partnership with Uber Eats .

McDonald's digital sales, made up of in-app purchases, delivery and kiosks, accounted for nearly 40% of systemwide sales during the second quarter of 2023. Revenue rose 14% to $6.5 billion during the period, the chain reported in July, and revenue net It nearly doubled to $2.3 billion during the quarter, beating analysts' expectations.

Some of those gains may fade a bit in the second half of the year. Price increases that have helped boost McDonald's sales in recent quarters will moderate as inflation declines, Chief Financial Officer Ian Borden said during July's second-quarter earnings call.

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