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McDonald's returns to its popular menu of dollars
Time

McDonald's, Taco Bell and the rest of the fast-food world know they'll find a lot of luck when it comes to charging just one dollar.

After staying on the road, dollar menus are coming strong.

This week alone, McDonald's brought back its menu of dollars, and even sells it with $ 2 and $ 3 items. And Taco Bell followed it by announcing that it will add 20 more items to its $ 1 menu next year.

Those singles add up quickly even for fast-food providers worth billions of dollars.

Sure, the economy is strong, but "people are looking for value," said Brian Yarbrough, a discrete consumer and consumer analyst at brokerage firm Edward Jones.

McDonald's, which bought its last Dollar Menu in 2012, now has its new $ 1 to $ 2 – $ 3 menu. For $ 1, diners can get items like a cheeseburger. For $ 2, there is the Bacon McDouble and $ 3, the Classic Chicken Sandwich, for example.

Taco Bell will greatly increase the list of items on its $ 1 menu that is already filled with options like the Grilled Breakfast Burrito with Bacon, the Spicy Tostada and the Triple Layer Nachos.

By expanding their value menus, fast-food restaurants put renewed pressure on other fast-service restaurants, as they all fight for the same dollars for dinner. Visits to fast-food restaurants, defined as fast food, casual fast food like Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread and pizza chains, remained stable in 12 months through August, according to research firm NPD Group.

The strategy for a successful dollar menu is to wait for people to ask for more items, and then more expensive items, so that the restaurant ends up with a benefit in the deal.

"It could be a situation where someone comes in and thinks about buying something and then starts thinking," This is quite reasonable "and is going to add some more things," said RJ Hottovy, a restaurant analyst at the investment research firm Morningstar.

Almost all fast food chains are in the value game, even if it is not at the $ 1 level.

Burger King has a value menu. Wendy's has the right size menu for the right size. Then, Dairy Queen, KFC and Carl's Jr./Hardee have all $ 5 food offers.

A bouncing economy does not negate the need for value options in the menu panels. Low and middle income consumers continue to feel the pressure of stagnant wage growth and rising rents and healthcare costs. They will gravitate toward the value menus.

More: McDonald's brings Dollar Menu, but with food for $ 2, $ 3 too

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Although the amount of money that Americans spent on food outside the home increased 4.9% from 2015 to 2016, according to the most recent data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. UU., The jump was less than 7.9% between 2014 and 2015.

The slightly more sophisticated fast-casual chains do not go through the deep discount route; They focus more on taste and talk about clean ingredients, healthy food options and menu provision. But fast food has to do with the price.

"We've always known that customers love McDonald's idea of ​​value." That has never changed, what has evolved is that they want more options, but with the familiarity of the original Dollar menu, "he said. the president of McDonald's in the United States, Chris Kempczinski, on the new $ 1 $ 2 $ 3 Dollar Menu. "If you think of any concept of retail, value will always be an important element, whether you sell clothes or hamburgers and chips."

Follow USA TODAY journalist Zlati Meyer on Twitter: @ZlatiMeyer

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