The burger chain, which has more than 200 stores in 26 states and the District of Columbia, including more than 70 international restaurants across London, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Dubai, Tokyo, Moscow, Seoul, reported same-store sales declines of 0.7 percent in the third quarter.
The comps figure has remained somewhat volatile in recent quarters, although that’s to be expected given how aggressively Shake Shack is growing. In total, by the end of 2018, Shake Shack will have opened 33–34 new restaurants to get the domestic total to 123–124. Previously, the brand, started as a single hot dog cart in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park 17 years ago, set a goal of 200 U.S. stores by the end of 2020 and 450 as a distant, but reachable target. About 20 percent of its 2019 openings were planned for new markets as well.
Shake Shack added $25 million in new sales in Q3 while experience a decrease in same-store sales of about $500,000—a setback with a long-term payoff, the company said.
“We believe in that overarching market growth strategy that continues to pay out solid top- and bottom-lines dividend and we remain squarely focused on building an extraordinary company for the long-term,” Shake Shack’s chief financial officer Tara Comonte said during the company’s November conference call. Currently, New York City and the Northeast make up two-thirds of the same-store sales base for the company.
Over the past year, the New York City and Northeast markets added $15 million to $21 million of new sales
Digitally, Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti said in the call, “We know that digital channels continue to grow as a percentage of our total sales and we know that they generally have a higher average check.”
“We know we have got a long way to go. We are excited about the opportunity and growth we believe continue digital expansion represents for our business,” he added.
Over the summer, Shake Shake stood at a digital crossroads to some extent. A kiosk-only opening in Astor Place showed the brand that some of its customers weren’t quite ready to blanket the entire ordering process with digital. Yet Shake Shack’s labor concerns, especially as it targets some of the highest wage markets in the country, makes the process a critical one.
By the end of the year, Shake Shack said it planned to test self-order kiosks in 20 additional restaurants. But overall, the brand was putting the brakes on the rollout in an effort to perfect the model.
The previous May, Shake Shack said would pilot stores that feature a combination of cashiers as well as kiosks since data showed that many guests still wanted to pay with cash.
“We'll keep listening and learning. But I think the whole point of the digital evolution of the company is that we want to put the power in your hands. If you want to be a person who orders on the app, we got you. If you want to have it delivered, we got you. If you want to talk to a human being, we can't wait to greet you with a smile. But it's your call. And we want to make sure that we're doing that in so many different ways,” Garutti said at the time.