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Chipotle & McDonald's Serving Up Success

by 
Bracha Arnold
 on 
April 23, 2024
Chipotle & McDonald's Serving Up Success

McDonald’s and Chipotle are two of the biggest names in the QSR and fast-casual space, with thousands of restaurants to their names and millions of visitors monthly. With Q1 2024 behind us, how are the two chains performing? And what can visitation patterns to McDonald’s new beverage concept, CosMc, tell us about the new chain? 

We dove into the foot traffic data to find out.

Key Takeaways:

  • McDonald’s year-over-year visit and visit per location numbers continued to grow.
  • McDonald’s new beverage chain CosMc’s is seeing strong afternoon visitation patterns. 
  • Chipotle saw strong monthly visit growth and outperformed the wider Fast-Casual segment.

Golden Arches Growth: McDonald’s Outperforms QSR

Foot traffic to McDonald’s has remained consistently strong over the past year, with the chain generally outperforming the wider Quick-Service Restaurant (QSR) and posting positive visit growth almost every month.

As the chain continues to roll out new concepts, like its Krispy Kreme partnership or revamped menu, visits may keep trending in their positive direction.

CosMc’s: Out of This World 

McDonald’s isn’t limiting its innovation to in-store partnerships and menu tweaks. The company recently launched its first spin-off restaurant, CosMc's, in December 2023 in the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook, Illinois, and plans to open at least ten stores by the end of the year. CosMc is named after a lesser-known McDonald's character and aims to compete with beverage and coffee-focused chains while meeting the growing demand for an afternoon pick-me-up. 

Comparing the Q1 2024 hourly visit distribution for the first CosMc location with that of nearby (within one mile) McDonald’s, Dunkin', and Starbucks locations reveals significant differences in visitation patterns between the concepts. CosMc received the smallest share of 7:00 to 10:59 AM visits – even less than the nearby McDonald’s – while the nearby Dunkin’ and Starbucks received the largest share of morning visits. But CosMc’s saw the largest share of late afternoon and evening visits – 40.2% of CosMc’s visits were between 4:00 and 7:59 PM, compared to 36.4%, 24.7%, and 18.3% for McDonald’s, Dunkin’, Starbucks, respectively. It seems, then, that CosMc’s is creating its own niche: Instead of competing to provide guests with their morning caffeine fix in the already crowded coffee space, the new brand is using its beverage-forward menu and playful snacks to attract guests with the promise of an afternoon pick-me-up. 

Since its launch, CosMc has opened three new locations in Texas and plans to continue rolling out the concept across the country. With a strong reception at its first few locations, CosMc is well-positioned to continue capturing afternoon beverage visits. 

Chipotle: Exceeding The Wider Industry 

Tex-Mex powerhouse Chipotle has also experienced strong foot traffic growth throughout the past twelve months, with the chain outperforming the wider Fast-Casual segment in every month analyzed. Some of the visit increase is likely due to Chipotle’s expansion, and the growth is not likely to slow down any time soon –  the company plans to add around 300  new locations in 2024.

With the Fast-Casual segment expected to continue growing in the coming year – and with Chipotle’s record of staying ahead of the curve – the fast casual leader is well-positioned to continue driving visits to its restaurants.

Dishing It Out

Despite industry challenges, McDonald's and Chipotle continue to drive visits and innovate in the QSR and fast-casual dining spaces, and CosMc's is making progress in the competitive QSR beverage space.

Will these dining destinations continue on their upward streaks?

To keep up with these and other data-driven dining insights, visit Placer.ai

This blog includes data from Placer.ai Data Version 2.0, which implements improvements to our extrapolation capabilities, adds short visit monitoring, and enhances visit detection. 

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