Chipotle has been besieged since 2015, when a major E.coli outbreak managed to infect scores of customers. Since then, the company has hemorrhaged money, giving away free burritos in an attempt to sway its once faithful clientele back into the fold. And per a report in Fortune, the burrito-peddler’s fifth straight quarterly sales decline could very well cause prices on a number of menu items to increase, according to company CEO Steve Ells.
Earlier this week, Chipotle released its preliminary results for the fourth quarter, which were not good. The chain’s sales fell 4.8% overall during the quarter, proving an even larger slump than analysts were predicting. Accounting for the piddling returns, the company noted, were the exorbitant cost of TV ads and the avocados used to make everyone’s favorite burrito-condiment, guacamole.
"During the quarter we incurred higher expenses compared to our originally-forecasted amounts in other operating costs, driven by increased promotional spend and costs related to testing television advertising...We also incurred higher food costs compared to our originally-forecasted amounts as a result of increased market costs for avocados,” the company stated in the preliminary report.