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·         Full-service sales growth appears to hit a pandemic wall, Black Box reports

·         Chipotle CFO: Restaurant closures have had 'no impact' on sales



Full-service sales growth appears to hit a pandemic wall, Black Box reports

After 12 weeks of same-store sales improvement, dine-in increases stagnate amid coronavirus concerns


Ron Ruggless, Nation's Restaurant News

Jul 23, 2020


Full-service restaurants’ sales recovery from coronavirus lockdowns appears to have stalled in mid-July as dine-in percentages slipped, according to data from Black Box Intelligence.


The Dallas-based restaurant analytics company said Thursday that, while same-store sales for the industry remained “essentially flat,” full-service recovery from state and local restrictions languished amid a surge in infections in many states.


After 12 consecutive weeks of same-store sales improvements at full-service restaurants, Black Box said those sales have stagnated over the past three weeks.


“As the number of COVID-19 cases rise and new capacity restrictions are implemented at the regional level, the percentage of dine-in sales has decreased,” Black Box said in its weekly report.


“During week ending July 12, 61% of all full-service restaurant sales were dine-in,” the company said, but that was down from a pandemic high of 64% two weeks before.


Black Box cited several possible reasons for stagnant growth in full-service sales.


“In addition to some guests likely being more cautious and avoiding dining out in response to the rising health concerns, full-service restaurants seem to have also hit a ceiling in terms of percentage of their restaurants that are open for dine-in business,” Black Box noted.


“After a steady climb since the end of April, the percentage of restaurants existing in the pre-COVID era that are now open for dine-in has plateaued around 87% for the last three weeks,” the firm said.


But while dine-in sales have slowed for full-service, off-premise sales growth in the segment improved in the past three weeks...





Chipotle CFO: Restaurant closures have had 'no impact' on sales


Jane Thier, CFO Dive

July 26, 2020


Dive Brief:


·         As many restaurants continue to struggle amid the pandemic, Chipotle Mexican Grill's digital sales are tripling, according to its second quarter earnings report, released Thursday. Currently up 200% from this time last year, digital sales account for more than half of the chain's overall sales. CFO Jack Hartung expects this trend to continue, he told Yahoo Finance Friday.

·         "Over the last few years, we've seen the more convenient access we give to our customers, the more they come back," he said. "As we've reopened dining rooms, we've retained 80 percent of our digital gains from April and May. I think that’ll last not just through the pandemic, but beyond. The convenience factor is big for our customers."

·         Hartung said Chipotle is continuing its experimentation with delivery options, which can be prohibitively costly to restaurants. "Delivery comes with a cost, and restaurants usually can't cover it," he said. "Some of our peers charge higher menu prices for delivery, but we're not doing that. We want to find out where customers are most comfortable."


Dive Insight:


Hartung said Chipotle has no plans to downsize, despite their number of restaurants and amount of sales volume that comes via the Chipotle app. "Our restaurants are already fairly small," he said. "Those of our peers are quite a bit bigger. Our dining rooms are much smaller than our kitchens. And when this pandemic is over, we think many of our customers will want to sit down."


California is among the biggest Chipotle markets, and a spike in COVID-19 cases has led Gov. Gavin Newsom to reinstate dine-in restrictions to curb infection rates. Hartung said the mandate's effect on business has been negligible.


"Virtually all our California restaurants have patio seating and pickup options," he said. "The reality is, even in the areas with open dining rooms, the vast majority of our customers who order inside take their food to go, so this is not having an impact on us at all."


Hartung also mentioned how supply chain operations are impacting food prices, saying the differences won't be severe.


"We always ship our avocados from Peru right around now, because we have a great business agreement with them," he said. But due to the pandemic, Chipotle is shifting to a more expensive Mexican supplier. "We want to signal to Wall Street investors that we'll have a rise in food cost because of that switch," he said. "But it's nothing we can't take care of."


Last month, Hartung told CFO Dive...


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