Burger King to launch $5 meal ahead of similar promo from rival McDonald's

Burger King is planning to offer a $5 value meal promotion in an attempt to ramp up sales, reported Bloomberg Thursday. News of the offer comes amid a surge in fast-food prices that has scared off budget-conscious customers.

The $5 deal comes one week after rival McDonald’s announced its own $5 promo. Burger King’s promotion appears to be the heftier of the two, offering customers a choice of one of three sandwiches along with chicken nuggets, fries and a drink. The burger chain didn’t give an exact time frame for the offer, but said the $5 meal will begin on a trial basis ahead of the McDonald’s $5 promo which is slated to launch June 25. 

“Burger King is accelerating its value offers after three quarters of leading the industry in value traffic,” a spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch in a statement. “We are bringing back our $5 Your Way Meal as agreed upon with our franchisees back in April.”

Earlier this week, another Burger King rival, Wendy’s, announced a new breakfast combo of potatoes plus an egg sandwich for $3. 

Burger King, McDonald’s, Wendy’s and others have turned to promos and deals in hopes of luring back cash-strapped customers who have recoiled from fast-food dining in response to soaring menu prices. Foot traffic at certain locations has either decreased or slowed in growth, restaurants have reported in recent weeks. Casual dining restaurants, like Applebee’s and IHOP, are also seeing a decrease in restaurant traffic.

Fast-food chains point to rising labor costs and food costs as the reason for price hikes to their menus in recent years. Across the U.S., 22 states raised their minimum wages in January, even as the federal baseline pay languishes at $7.25 an hour. 

However, labor advocates dispute that rising employee wages are to blame for higher fast-food costs. A March analysis of California fast-food restaurants by the Roosevelt Institute, a liberal think tank, noted the industry’s record profit margins.

The hikes appear to be particularly harmful to low-income Americans. A January poll by consulting firm Revenue Management Solutions found that about 25% of people who make under $50,000 were cutting back on fast food, citing cost as a main concern.

Burger King’s owner, Restaurant Brands International, has “seen consumers become a bit more sensitive to price,” CEO Joshua Kobza told analysts during the company’s most recent earnings call last month. McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski expressed a similar sentiment in an earnings call last month, saying that the company has to be “laser-focused” on keeping prices affordable to keep customers.

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