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45% of McDonald's restaurants skipping McRib

McDonald's McRib
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McDonald's McRib

McDonald's McRib fans have waited all year for the popular sandwich to return and now that it has begun trickling back into restaurants, they should be prepared to hunt around to find it.

That's because only around 8,000 of McDonald's roughly 14,350 restaurants in the U.S. plan to carry it, spokeswoman Lisa McComb told CNBC.

This represents about 55 percent of locations, whereas reports from last year pegged the rollout at roughly 75 percent.

Read MoreMore McMuffin changes coming

In some markets, the sandwich has already returned, with several, including northeast Pennsylvania and greater Pittsburgh, tweeting they had begun selling it.

The boneless barbecue pork sandwich typically attracts considerable fanfare when it returns annually for a limited time. While McDonald's has sold it nationwide in the past, the McRib has become a regional offering in recent years.

Giving more power to regions to decide whether to sell such items is a key part of the chain's effort to turn around its domestic performance, which has struggled amid fierce competition from fast food rivals like Sonic and fast casual players such as Chipotle Mexican Grill.