One in four Japanese consumers ate in McDonald's last week as a price cutting promotion hit home.

Following a slump in sales on the impact of mad cow disease and an economic recession, the group has taken drastic measures to get customers back through the door. Last week hamburger prices were reduced to their lowest ever level, and the move appears to have paid off.

"We made a new record in terms of the number of customers for the first time in 16 months," McDonald's is quoted by Reuters as saying. "The results demonstrate that one-quarter of the population visited our restaurants," it said.

McDonald's Japan said sales for the week stood at¥ 9.35bn (US$77.89m) from a record 30.1 million customers, surpassing the 27.78 million consumers who ate at its stores in April 2001.

The number of customers rose 25% from the previous week after it slashed prices on 5 August, selling plain hamburgers for ¥59, down from ¥80, and cheeseburgers for ¥79 instead of ¥120 - their lowest prices ever in Japan.