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McDonald’s pivots into grocery basics

Fast food giant McDonald’s is branching out from Happy Meals to provide basic grocery items to customers at the Drive Thru and takeaway.

From Wednesday April 1, the restaurant chain is offering two and three litre bottles of full cream and skim milk, as well as packs of English muffins and gourmet bread rolls through its contactless services, as “a safe way” for people to basic essentials.

A spokesperson for McDonald’s Australia said the move was designed to “support local communities during these uncertain times”.

Last week, the fast food giant closed the dine-in option at its locations across Australian in response to government’s shutdown measures but, like many other food businesses, continues to offer takeaway, drive-thru and delivery services.

Retail expert Professor Gary Mortimer is a little more sceptical about the thinking behind the latest move.

“With McDonald’s all they’re trying to do is sell inventory that they’ve already pre-booked. The pre-ordered milk would be delivered for the Cafe, and the English muffins and bread rolls would have been ordered for the breakfast menu,” Mortimer told Inside Retail.

“I don’t think many people will be asking for milk and English muffins with their Happy Meals at the Drive Thru despite their claims that it will make life easier for customers.”

With concerns growing over the prospect of further shutdowns, businesses are innovating to remain relevant to consumers.

Last week The Coffee Club launched home delivered ‘Care Kits’, made up of basic staples including milk, bread and coffee.

The cafe franchise said the aim with the packages is to allow consumers to show someone they care, without being there.

“We know that many Australians are finding it difficult to buy essentials that are in high demand. With many people vulnerable and self-isolating across the country, we’ve worked with our partners to find a way to deliver these essential care packs straight to your door,” The Coffee Club CEO Nick Bryden said.

The basic Care Kit, which is delivered through Uber Eats, offers a standard loaf of bread, plus a carton of milk for $8, but it can be customised to add coffees, cake and other menu items as extras.

Many small independent cafes and breweries are also offering milk and bread for takeaway or drive thru in order to draw consumers in.

“What we are seeing is business trying to pivot and adapt so that they can continue to grow their business and survive during this time,” Mortimer said.

“This is the first level of adaption, developing an innovative offer that takes little effort and little risk. If milk and bread is already being delivered, they can on sell these products with little risk.”

The next stage, Mortimer says, is businesses working collaboratively for better outcomes.

“We should start to see small bars that have a takeaway kitchen connect with a local cafe, so one can look after food and the other can manage coffee, so that both businesses can survive.”

Mortimer suspects that if Stage 4 restrictions are introduced, non-essential retail, footwear, apparel, office supplies, hardware and bottle shops are likely to close.

“They may force cafes to close their doors if people can’t be trusted to maintain social distancing, but it’s likely drive thru services could remain open as people are social distancing by being in their car,” he said.

Many bars and breweries are already offering takeaway beers and drive thru services to keep the business afloat.

This story originally appeared on sister site Inside FMCG.

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