June was Chipotle’s strongest month since the E. coli crisis, according to new research released before Chipotle reports quarterly earnings on Thursday.
Traffic in June increased by around 9% during the peak lunch hour relative to May, financial services firm BTIG found based on a channel check at a New York Chipotle location.
That would make June the strongest month yet for Chipotle since the outbreak late last year.
Chipotle’s apparent traffic growth goes hand in hand with increasingly positive customer sentiment.
On Tuesday, Credit Suisse raised Chipotle’s second-quarter same-store sales estimates to negative 20%, from negative 22%, noting an improvement in net sentiment.
The new data falls in line with Business Insider’s prior reports of Chipotle’s rising traffic.
“We’ve got people coming back,” an employee at a New York City Chipotle location told Business Insider in June. “Before, it was 2 p.m. and people would stop coming in. Now it’s 3 p.m. and people are still coming.”
Social media reports further demonstrate the return of customers to Chipotle:
Can’t believe Chipotle this crowded
— jmurked (@_jaelah) July 17, 2016
When Chipotle first came out I had to pull my friends teeth to go…now it’s the most crowded fast food place I’ve ever seen
— The Dark Knight (@TheCoveted713) July 17, 2016
In early June, a poll of consumer perceptions by YouGov revealed that consumers had mostly positive feelings about Chipotle for the first time since the news of the E. coli crisis hit, eight months ago.
Still, growing traffic and more positive customer perception doesn’t necessarily mean that Chipotle has returned to its former glory.
BTIG reported that the regional launch of chorizo and rewards program Chiptopia had not had an effect on sales so far in July.
“While we continue to believe that Chipotle will recover its lost sales from the food safety issues last fall, we remain uncertain of the timing and promotional activity that may be required,” the BTIG note reads. “We continue to expect that comps will remain negative for at least the next two quarters and remain on the sidelines until we see a stronger traffic improvement and greater certainty about a sustained sales recovery.”