business news in context, analysis with attitude

CNBC reports that Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol is saying that he believes "we can double the restaurant count to 7,000.  We view it as a conservative number, and we view it as something that’s very feasible in the long term.”

The story says that Niccol conceded "that it has been a tricky business environment over the past two years as inflation persists, but said he thinks Chipotle customers are satisfied with the cost of its food. Chipotle announced in October of last year it would increase prices to offset inflation after a year without any hikes, but didn’t share the exact higher costs."

Niccol made the comments after Chipotle reported a successful Q4 in which foot traffic was up more than seven percent.

Meanwhile, CNN reports that "at McDonald’s, which has repeatedly boasted about its ability to raise menu prices without denting sales, executives are finally acknowledging that customers need a break.  On Monday, as the burger chain reported weaker-than-expected sales at its US stores, CEO Chris Kempczinski addressed McDonald’s 'affordability' problem, and indicated the chain would cut prices on some menu items."

Kempczinski conceded in his comments that "eating at home has become more affordable."  As eating at McDonald's has become less so.

KC's View:

It isn't the best look for a fast feeder to announce that it can raise prices at will without worrying about hurting sales.  It also didn't help when it was reported that there was one McDonald's in a Connecticut rest stop where a Big Mac "value meal" cost $18 - a number that sort of subverts the whole "value" premise.

It so happens, by the way, that the McDonald's in question is a stone's throw from where I live.  Nobody local would ever go there, because everybody has known for years that it was a place where one would get screwed.  The gas prices there also are higher than anyplace else nearby.

(It also is a rest stop that for years had the reputation of being a place where long-haul truckers - and, I suppose, even short-haul truckers - could park and avail themselves of the services of, shall we say, sex workers.  So I guess pretty much everybody was getting screwed.)