Chipotle Mexican Grill reported on Wednesday (Oct. 21) that digital sales rocketed up 202.5 percent year-over-year to $776.4 million and comprised nearly half of sales in Q3.
Approximately half of the digital sales were through delivery, with the remainder coming from order-ahead transactions, according to the quick-service-restaurant (QSR) chain.
“A reduction of dine-in services, more people working from home, increased advertising and digital awareness, recent partnerships with Uber Eats and Grubhub and expanded digital capabilities into Canada all have helped attract new customers into our digital ecosystem while increasing convenient access to Chipotle,” Chairman and CEO Brian Niccol said on an earnings call with analysts.
Niccol said the company’s rewards program has grown sizably since March and now counts 17 million enrolled members among its ranks.
“This is more viewership than on a typical Monday night football broadcast and gives us a content distribution and engagement network that we can use to elevate engagement and awareness of brand initiatives,” he said.
Niccol said that innovation is a central part of Chipotle, and the restaurant company’s stage-gate process is an important tool through which it experiments, listens and learns from customers and operations before moving to a nationwide rollout.
The executive noted that Chipotle keeps exploring menu initiatives that are in line with its food with integrity standards. Niccol pointed to carne asada as a successful example, which he said the company is “delighted to bring back for a limited time across the U.S. and Canada, as well as in France for the first time.”
The company opened 44 new locations in Q3 and shuttered three eateries, while approximately 10 eateries are still temporarily closed because of the pandemic.
In terms of health and safety amid the pandemic, Niccol said the company is benefiting from investments made a few years ago, such as advanced air filtration systems, wellness protocols, sanitizers throughout the restaurant and bolstered handwashing.
Niccol noted that Chipotle is closely following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations and local health departments. It has implemented social distancing, a tamper-evident packaging seal for all digital orders, the wearing of face coverings and a steward role in sanitizing high-traffic areas.
As for its overall results, Chipotle Mexican Grill reported $3.76 in adjusted diluted earnings per share, excluding charges on revenue of $1.6 billion. The results exceeded analyst estimates of $3.40 in earnings per share on $1.59 billion in revenue.