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Digging Into 2023: McDonald’s and Chipotle Update

by 
Ezra Carmel
 on 
April 20, 2023
Digging Into 2023: McDonald’s and Chipotle Update

When we last checked in with McDonald’s and Chipotle, the brands’ visit growth was outpacing that of their category peers and the introduction of new initiatives were helping to drive foot traffic and sales. With Q1 2023 in the books, we dove into the recent performance of both chains to consider what might lie ahead for the remainder of 2023.

Arches Up

McDonald’s capped off 2022 on a high note, with strategic price increases and eye-catching promotions driving both sales and foot traffic. And with planned expansions and advances in automation taking form, McDonald’s appears to be hitting 2023 in stride. 

Since the start of 2023, McDonald’s weekly year-over-year (YoY) visits consistently outperformed that of its QSR peers. For the first 14 weeks of the year, the brand saw weekly foot traffic growth compared to 2022 every week – even when the QSR category as a whole was experiencing foot traffic declines.

Chipotle on a Roll

Chipotle also began 2023 by building upon 2022’s success as the company continues to expand its footprint. Wrapped up with Chipotle’s growth is a commitment to innovation, including investments in the highly successful Chipotlanes – fully digital drive-thrus – and most recently, a sustainable restaurant design that is to feature prominently in future locations.

Since the start of 2023, Chipotle’s weekly YoY traffic consistently outperformed that of its fast-casual restaurant peers. The only hiccup in Chipotle’s visit growth was the week of April 3rd, 2023 which included Easter Sunday, when more consumers may have chosen to eat at home with friends and family. And even during that week, Chipotle’s foot traffic still outperformed the wider fast-casual category, so many consumers who did dine out continued to choose Chipotle over other fast-casual restaurants. 

Loyalty Drives Visits

Chipotle and McDonald's are not just succeeding in driving traffic and outperforming their respective categories. The brands’ loyalty programs and digital dominance are also driving an increase in the share of repeat customers – indicating these chains’ potential for continued long-term growth. Through 2022, Chipotle and McDonald’s had approximately 30 million and 50 million digital rewards members, respectively, and these growing loyalty programs had a significant impact on the frequency of brick-and-mortar visits. 

Analysis of visitation metrics for Chipotle and McDonald’s revealed that in Q1 2023, 32.3% of Chipotle’s in-person visitors visited the chain at least twice during the quarter – compared to 30.8% in Q1 2022. Also in Q1 2023, 53.2% of McDonald’s in-person visitors frequented the chain at least two times – up from 50.1% in Q1 2022. It appears that these powerhouse dining chains have found a recipe for both digital and in-person visit growth. 

Hungry for More

McDonald’s and Chipotle are continuing their success stories in the dining space. Both brands consistently drive visits through expansion and innovation that resonate with hungry diners. And as the two chains grow their digital and physical footprints, consumers are visiting these dining destinations more frequently. 

For updates and more data-driven dining insights, visit Placer.ai.

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