After a string of food safety nightmares that injured Chipotle's reputation as well as its stock price, the company seems to be on the road to recovery — at least, according to foot traffic analysis and consumer surveys.
Recent analysis from location-based marketing firm xAd reveals that the fast-casual chain has seen an uptick in foot traffic recently. xAd's Senior Director of Global Research, Sarah Ohle, notes that the company has seen an increase in foot traffic to quick-service locations across the board (which she attributes to nicer weather), but Chipotle's seems to be slightly more significant.
xAd compared foot traffic at Chipotle to that at Taco Bell, noting "a strong customer overlap between the two brands." For every visit to Chipotle in March, the company noted 3.6 visits to Taco Bell. But in May, those numbers grew a little closer: For every one visit to Chipotle, consumers visited Taco Bell 3.2 times. "This doesn't mean that Taco Bell visits are decreasing, but that the proportion is shifting as Chipotle gains back share," says Ohle.
Ohle says most of the traffic is seen during the lunchtime rush. "In March we saw Chipotle having two distinct peaks at lunch and dinner," she says. "In May, the dinner peak is still present, but lunch is now a much stronger time period for relative visitation to the brand." She adds that the trend could signify that the work crowd is returning to Chipotle as a go-to lunch option.
As Business Insider reports, consumer perceptions toward Chipotle seem to be warming, too: A June 2 poll of consumers by YouGov revealed positive feelings for Chipotle for the first time in eight months.
In recent months, Chipotle has been working hard to reclaim its place at the top of the fast-casual sector. The chain is aiming to bring back lapsed customers with a new menu offering, chorizo, and a new loyalty program called Chiptopia.