It’s the latest move in a long, long come-back plan
Earlier this week, Chipotle announced they are offering free kids’ meals to children 12 and under every Sunday throughout the month of September with the purchase of any regular adult menu item.
This is the latest in a long string of promotions aimed at winning patrons back after an E.Coli outbreak affected locations in 14 states last Fall, which resulted in driving away masses of customers nationwide and causing considerable damage to its reputation as a healthier fast-food alternative. The fast food burrito chain gave away 21 million coupons for free burritos last March. In August, Chipotle began offering happy-hour specials on alcoholic drinks in eight states. And earlier this week, Chipotle announced free non-alcoholic drinks for students with a valid ID throughout the month of September.
In addition to free-food and drink giveaways intended to attract customers who haven’t returned to the chain after last year’s E. coli outbreak, the 22-year-old restaurant has also been assuring customers it’s doing all it can to ensure food safety. The fast-causal giant has also launched a loyalty program called Chiptopia. Although the program was initially successful in driving traffic, executives have noted that participation has tapered off in the weeks since.
While the devastating E.Coli outbreak was declared over in February, sales have remained down, with the chain’s sales dropping 30% in the first quarter of 2016.
According to Business Insider, despite Chipotle’s investment in free food and drinks, the chain has not yet offered evidence that the giveaways are working. Earlier in August, a letter from Chipotle to the Securities and Exchange Commission was released that revealed that as of July the company was unable to measure any revenue gained the free-food coupons.