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Why Subway Secretly Doesn't Want This Popular Offering to Return

The reason? It's not profitable.
Subway sandwich artist making sub

When you think of Subway, the first menu item that pops into your mind is the Footlong sub, right? If you frequented the sandwich chain sometime between 2008 and 2011, you more than likely got it for just $5.

The $5 Footlong deal has re-emerged sporadically over the past several years, and now, Subway wants to resurrect the deal starting on June 9—the first time since 2018. Now, whether that deal will be available at a Subway near you is still up for debate. Subway's franchisee association recommends that its members make an effort to not bring back the beloved $5 Footlong.

"The $5 Footlong was abandoned years ago after countless attempts to make it profitable for the restaurant," the North American Association of Subway Franchisees (NAASF) wrote in a letter to its members a few weeks ago that Restaurant Business obtained a copy of. "Not since the first iteration of this campaign did the increase in sales from traffic offset the cost of the trade-down."

Simply put, making a $5 dollar sub in 2020 doesn't cover all of the food and labor costs as it once did upon its national debut in 2008. In the letter, the association says it will not support any $5 Footlong offer available to customers who walk in the door or isn't tied to combo deal (think chips and a drink). This is because the low price makes it difficult for them to break even. For this reason, the deal will only be available through Subway's mobile app.

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While the $5 Footlong is a great deal for the customer, the franchisee-investors end up covering the cost of the funds needed to make the deal happen. In the end, no profit is made. This is especially the case when customers choose a more expensive sandwich—such as one with roast beef—for the deal.

The legendary $5 Footlong that hit the market during the recession is now trying to make a comeback during the pandemic, but after a decade's worth of food and labor costs increases, the deal simply isn't sustainable for franchisees to fund.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of <Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
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