Chipotle’s Sales Took A Deeper Dive Than Previously Expected Amid Food Safety Issues

It’s safe to say that Chipotle’s year is off to a rough start. Today, the company announced that it had received a subpoena from a grand jury looking into the circumstances surrounding a norovirus outbreak in California, and then it disclosed another bit of not-so-great news to investors: sales this quarter are down even more than analysts predicted in November.

Same-store sales fell 14.6%, Chipotle said in a regulatory filing Wednesday, reported by Bloomberg. It’s the company’s first quarterly drop since it went public. Earlier, stock analysts had projected the company’s same-store numbers to sink by as much as 11%, making the drop likely that much more painful.

Chipotle is trying to recover from a spate of food-borne illnesses that have sickened customers around the country — including the E. Coli outbreak this fall, the norovirus outbreak in Boston that sickened 140, and the separate norovirus incident in California in August that’s the subject of the grand jury investigation.

Those outbreaks definitely hit Chipotle right where it hurts: after the Boston outbreak, same-store sales fell 34%, Bloomberg notes, and after the Centers for Disease Control’s report on additional E. coli cases at the end of December, sales dipped 37%. Sales were down 30% for all of December.

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