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Gaza Conflict Creates Trouble for McDonald's and Starbucks as Boycotts hit Sales and Stock Prices

Both companies reported that the war adversely impacted their sales towards the end of last year, leading to a significant drop in their stock values
Cover Image Source: The logo of McDonald's | Photo by Matt Cardy | Getty Images
Cover Image Source: The logo of McDonald's | Photo by Matt Cardy | Getty Images

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has been raging on for almost four months now, and it has affected the financial standing of two of America's largest fast-food chains, McDonald’s and Starbucks. Both companies reported that the boycotts adversely impacted their sales towards the end of last year, leading to a significant drop in their stock values.

Pexels |
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by

McDonald’s experienced a nearly 4% decline in its shares on Monday, attributed to a reported sales deceleration in the Middle East impacting its fourth-quarter revenue. Similarly, Starbucks saw its stock drop by approximately 2% since Tuesday, following the company's disclosure of diminished U.S. sales in the last quarter of the year, partly due to the ongoing conflict.

These industry leaders joined the ranks of major U.S. corporations acknowledging the adverse effects of the Israel-Hamas conflict on their financial performance, which is expected to persist in future quarters.

Pexels | Min An
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Min An

Starbucks faced backlash and potential boycotts after Starbucks Workers United, representing many unionized cafes, expressed support for Palestinians in a now-deleted tweet, prompting a conservative backlash. The company distanced itself from the tweet and initiated legal action against Workers United for trademark infringement.


CEO Laxman Narasimhan said that Starbucks' is not only struggling to make sales in the Middle East but is also bearing the brunt of the boycotts of its U.S. cafes. While the chain's U.S. same-store sales saw a 5% rise in the fiscal first quarter, foot traffic experienced a decline, primarily from occasional customers. However, the coffeehouse and roastery chain plans to revive demand through targeted promotions and new product offerings.

On the other hand, McDonald’s witnessed a slip in fourth-quarter sales in the Middle East due to discounts offered to soldiers by its Israeli licensee, sparking boycotts from customers opposing Israel's inhumane actions. This region typically contributes about 2% of McDonald’s global sales and 1% of its global earnings before interest and taxes.

On Monday, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski acknowledged that the company observed decreased sales in the Middle East and predominantly Muslim nations such as Malaysia and Indonesia. On top of all that, France, with the largest Muslim population in Europe, showed a decline in sales, partly because of the pricing issues leading to reduced demand. The fast-food giant anticipates that its sales in the Middle East will not rebound until the conflict ends.

Interestingly, unlike Starbucks, McDonald’s did not report any impact on its US sales. However, both companies are now navigating the complexities of balancing corporate operations with geopolitical sensitivities.

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Besides McDonald’s and Starbucks, other fast-food chains like Domino’s Pizza, Papa John’s, Burger King, and Pizza Hut have also faced calls for boycotts from activists. Yum Brands is set to post its quarterly results on Wednesday, while Restaurant Brands is scheduled to announce its revenue on February 13th. Domino's and Papa John's are anticipated to disclose their fourth-quarter earnings towards the end of the month.

Getty Images | Justin Edmonds
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Justin Edmonds

The Israel-Hamas conflict has not only ignited debates on geopolitical fronts but has also caused ripples across the corporate landscape. These developments underscore the complex interplay between geopolitical tensions and consumer sentiment, highlighting the far-reaching implications of global conflicts on multinational corporations' financial performance. We can only anticipate how these companies navigate the aftermath of a war that has reshaped consumer preferences and demands.