Insight Flash: CE data reveals which Chipotle competitors stand to lose the most market share and how rural vs. metropolitan sales have trended

As Chipotle expands further into rural areas, Consumer Edge CSA data (CSA stands for “Combined Statistical Area”, which are metropolitan and micropolitan areas of the United States which are used by federal agencies such as the census bureau to collect, analyze and publish federal statistics) reveals which restaurant brands stand to lose the most market share and how rural vs. metropolitan sales have trended. Chipotle’s minor presence in rural markets could present itself as an opportunity to not only grow sales, but also seize share from quick service peers who have long relied more on these smaller pockets of the US.

Quick service restaurant operator Chipotle seeks to capitalize on elevated demand in rural markets. Chipotle CFO Jack Hartung stated last year that “new restaurants in smaller markets are operating at two to three times the sales of an average Chipotle”. Consumer Edge data reveals that Chipotle’s rural market outpaced their metropolitan market over the past 6 quarters.

Chipotle Metro vs Rural Growth

Management has their eyes on an additional 700-800 small town locations, accounting for roughly 20% of the 3,800 new North America locations set to open in the next few years. Consumer Edge data shows Chipotle as being in the middle of the pack in rural market sales growth over the past 6 quarters.

Chipotle vs Competitor Rural Sales Growth YoY

CSA location data can shed light on brands’ exposure to rural markets and who is most at risk of losing share due to Chipotle’s expansion strategy.

Consumer Edge data reveals that Chipotle’s non-major metropolitan area sales have accounted for 12% of total sales over a trailing 4Q window. This compares to small town favorites McDonalds, Chick-Fil-A and others which consistently accounts for more than 20% of total sales.

Trailing 4Q Rural Sales Mix

In summary, CE data suggests Chipotle has room to grow in rural parts of the country compared to many of their quick service peers. Recent growth rates suggest a continued rural expansion may continue to be accretive to Chipotle’s total sales growth.

Consumer Edge is the leading provider of alternative data for consumer spending behavior, and the only provider of global revenue signals. If you’d like to benefit from using Transact US or other products for restaurants, retail, and other industry data year-round to track trends and dynamics like these, reach out to insights@consumeredge.com.

Katherine Bjorkman is the Director of Insights for the CEIC. Explore more of her insights here and follow her on LinkedIn.