Massive Lines Form At McDonald's Before Chain Closes Nearly 850 Stores In Russia

Mason Joseph Zimmer
woman in face mask balances tray of McDonald's food in crowded Moscow location
Getty Images | Konstantin Zavrazhin

In the days after Russian forces began their invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the Russian government has drawn almost universal condemnation from the international community. Indeed, even Switzerland has broken its historical neutrality to impose sanctions.

And this outraged response hasn't just come from other governments, as private citizens such as the hacker group Anonymous are also working to undermine Russia's capability to fund its operations in Ukraine.

Perhaps the most damaging of these private responses, however, has come at the corporate level as over 300 multinational companies are now suspending all business in Russia for as long as the invasion continues.

That list includes McDonald's, which is one of the biggest emblems of change for post-Soviet Russia. And judging what unfolded at the fast food giant's Russian locations on March 9, this shutdown marks a loss that Russian citizens are already feeling.

On March 8, McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski announced that the chain would indefinitely close all locations in Russia, which translates to almost 850 stores.

crowd standing in line outside of Russian McDonald's location
twitter | @jason_corcoran

We can see here that this led to a rush of customers trying to get their last tastes of the iconic food before this decision came into effect.

According to Insider, the company's decision had a particularly significant impact at this location in Pushkin Square, Moscow as this restaurant marked the first time McDonald's had entered Russia in 1990.

Not only was this significant for locals on its own, but it was also considered a sign of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which occurred just months later.

cars line up outside of Russian McDonald's
twitter | @kamilkazani

With that in mind, it's hardly a surprise that this location in particular would feature massive lines of cars and people on foot. Not only because they don't know when they'll ever get to satisfy that craving again, but because it's hard not to see this as the end of an era.

As an academic working with international NGO the Wilson Center named Kamil Galeev tweeted, "At this point people started realising that previous standards of life are gone."

The temporary divestment of McDonald's from Russia comes in the wake of mounting pressure, but it will also likely prove costly for the chain.

woman in facemask balances tray of McDonald's food in crowded Moscow location
Getty Images | Konstantin Zavrazhin

According to CNBC, the company estimated that it will lose $50 million for every month that these closures remain in effect. This is at least partially due to the fact that McDonald's will continue to pay the salaries of all 62,000 employees affected by the decision as well as the relevant leasing and supply chain costs.

As its CFO Kevin Ozan told the outlet, "We expect this to be temporary and we certainly don’t take this decision lightly, but for us this is about doing what we think is the right thing to do, both for the global business and for our people locally."

refrigerator in Russia filled with McDonald's hamburgers
reddit | noahstemann

Representatives have also said that it's "impossible to predict" when these closures will be lifted.

As we can see from this photo, that reality has prompted some citizens to hoard what hamburgers they were able to get their hands on in the meantime.

h/t: Insider