The Drive Thru: Bankruptcies continue, Chipotle explodes on digital, and some chains avoid enforcing mask policies

Gunnar Rathbun/AP ImagesWalmart will not kick off Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving this year.

Hello and happy Friday!

We made it through another week. And at least for the retail world, it was pretty jam-packed. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with all the news you need to know here at The Drive Thru, Business Insider’s weekly round-up of restaurant and retail news.

Before we hit the news, subscribe here to get me, Shoshy Ciment, and my colleague, Kate Taylor in your inbox every Friday!

Here’s what you need to know:

More bankruptcies and store closures: Tailored Brands, Ascena Retail Group, J. Crew

AP Photo/Paul Sakuma10 Ann Taylor stores, 28 Ann Taylor Factory stores, nine LOFT stores, and 21 LOFT Outlet stores, are set to close.

With the pandemic ravaging brick-and-mortar retail, it seems like every week brings more bankruptcies and new rounds of store closures: Here’s who was impacted this week:


Check out our running list of all the stores closing in 2020 and our list of the retailers and restaurant chains that have filed for bankruptcy or liquidation in 2020

The exception: Aldi said it plans to open another 70 stores this year.

Chipotle’s digital sales soar during the pandemic

Irene Jiang/Business InsiderChipotle’s digital sales accounted for 61% of its overall sales in the quarter.

In a Wednesday earnings call with investors, Chipotle reported that digital sales grew 216% year-over-year in Q2.

Even though most of the chains’ dining rooms are open, digital sales accounted for 61% of its overall sales in the quarter, representing about $US829 million.

Despite the mostly digital growth, Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol said we can expect to see more locations of the chain open up in the future. Niccol said he is “confident in the long-term opportunity to more than double the number of Chipotle restaurants in the US” in 2021, defying the grim trend of restaurant closures that has characterised the industry in the pandemic.

Chipotle is also bringing on a new line of teas, aquas frescas, and lemonades this month, thanks to a partnership with Tractor Beverages.

“As the dining experience has reached new heights, consumers deserve better. They deserve an opportunity to choose,” Tractor CEO Luke Emery, a former Coca-Cola executive, told Business Insider’s Gloria Dawson.

Meanwhile Chipotle is killing it on TikTok with user challenges, influencer partnerships, and secret menu hacks.

Some stores are not requiring masks or enforcing their policies

Bethany Biron/Business Insider

At least 24 chains now require shoppers to wear masks while in stores.

But some stores did not initially follow suit and said they wouldn’t enforce mask requirements. Violent incidences stemming from anti-mask sentiment have been common across major retailers and some chains do not want to incite any more aggression by having their employees enforce the policy.

In an interview with the Financial Times, the CEO of Foot Locker said he is “not willing to put [his employees] at risk” by asking them to enforce a mask policy.

Winn-Dixie’s parent company Southeastern Grocers reversed its initial mask decision and said it would require customers to wear masks beginning July 27. This came after a spokesperson for the company told USA Today the chain wanted to avoid “undue friction” between customers and employees.

Meanwhile, some retailers that require masks have different methods of enforcement. Lowe’s is not letting its employees enforce its policy to avoid aggression from shoppers and Office Depot is telling workers not to cross their arms or “frown” at unmasked shoppers to avoid mask-related confrontations.

Q and A: Here’s what we’re asking this week

ReutersCoca-Cola reported earnings this week.

Q: Is Black Friday going to happen?

A: Yes, but it will likely be different. A recession and a pandemic make for a perfect storm threatening to kill in-person Black Friday sales once and for all. Plus, in a break from tradition, Walmart will not kick off its Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving this year.

Q: Why can’t I find my favourite Coca-Cola drinks anywhere right now?

A: Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey explained this in an earnings call on Tuesday and said that the company is seeing shipment delays and plans to discontinue some of its smaller, less profitable brands.

Q: It’s 2020. Is the sneaker industry still a “boy’s club?”

A: Actually, the once male-dominated sneaker industry is changing as more women find their place as designers, executives, and collectors. Check out these 18 outstanding women who are transforming the sneaker industry today.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.