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SACRAMENTO - As key competitors nationwide make plans to open on Christmas, the McDonald's Corporation is encouraging its franchisees to do the same.

"Our largest holiday opportunity as a system is Christmas Day," McDonald's USA Chief Operating Officer Jim Johannesen wrote in a memo sent to franchisees and obtained by Advertising Age magazine. "Last year, (company-operated) restaurants that opened on Christmas averaged $5,500 in sales," he wrote.

It's an unusual request from the world's largest fast food chain, considering the company's tradition of closing on major holidays. McDonald's Corp. founder Ray Kroc was against operating restaurants on holidays such Thanksgiving and Christmas, preferring that employees spend time at home with their families.

Sacramento-area Burger King locations have hung banners outside their stores announcing plans to be open for customers on Christmas.

McDonald's previously experimented with opening up a portion of its restaurants on Thanksgiving, which helped reverse a rare drop in same-store sales in October. Company executives hope to see the same type of success this month, which could potentially contribute to a fourth-quarter jump.

Some News10 viewers said that minimum wage workers should not be asked to work on Christmas.

"This is a very sad example of a business putting profit over caring about their employees' Christmas time with their families,"wrote Laura Tolliday of Sacramento.

But others disagreed, and argued that private businesses should be open anytime at the discretion of the owners or operators.

"Christmas is just another day for many of us," said Baldo Villegas of Sacramento. "Those that do not celebrate Christmas should be able to go and shop/eat at such business."

Industry analysts say many franchise owners are not happy about the request from McDonald's headquarters, but franchisees do have final say on whether to open on Dec. 25. However, McDonald's franchise owners unhappy with the corporate request will have a final say on hours and wages.

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By Chris Nguyen

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