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Subway May Have Shuttered Thousands of Locations Last Year

Or as many as 10% of their stores, sources say.

Subway was among the fast-food brands that streamlined its menu last year to simplify operations amid the coronavirus pandemic. But less is known about what happened behind the scenes with the chain's footprint, including how many locations—if any—the company permanently closed in order to cut its losses.

According one industry trade publication, the number of closures may have been considerable. Restaurant Business reports that Subway shut down as many as 10% of its restaurants, which would amount to between 2,200 and 2,400 stores.

When asked for a comment, Subway refused to provide a specific number of locations. But the chain maintained that the number of permanent closures was "lower" than the estimate. (Related: 100 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet.)

"Subway does not disclose this information, but we can tell you that the figure you provided is not accurate," the company said in an emailed statement to Restaurant Business. "The number of permanent closures in 2020 is lower than your estimate, as there are temporary closures due to COVID."

Despite other store closures in recent years, Subway remains the largest restaurant chain in the U.S.—and the world!—based on its footprint. The company started 2020 with close to 24,000 domestic locations and more than 41,000 worldwide.

While Subway has built its success on an aggressive growth strategy, a pain point has been restaurants located in malls and urban areas—two places which have suffered significant reductions in foot traffic amid the pandemic. Whatever the actual number of shuttered Subway restaurants may be, the majority have most likely disappeared from these markets.

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Mura Dominko
Mura is ETNT's Executive Editor, leading the coverage of America's favorite restaurant chains, grocery stores, and viral food moments. Read more about Mura