Is Subway Shutting Down in 2024? Exploring the Resilience of a Global Fast-Food Icon

Is Subway Shutting Down? Subway, the ubiquitous sandwich franchise known for its footlong subs, has faced some serious challenges in recent years. Store closures, dropping sales, and changing consumer preferences have led some to speculate whether the franchise is in a downward spiral.

However, despite its struggles, Subway as a whole is not shutting down. The franchise continues to have over 37,000 locations globally and is implementing strategies to revamp its brand and operations.

Closures of Underperforming Franchises

In recent years, Subway has closed hundreds of underperforming franchises across the U.S. Its total U.S. locations dropped by 3,300 between 2015 and 2021. Subway’s website indicates it now has 20,709 U.S. stores, down from a peak of 27,103 in 2015.

These closures can be attributed to market saturation, overexpansion, increased competition, changing consumer tastes, and the economic impact of COVID-19.

By optimizing its footprint, Subway aims to boost sales and profitability for remaining franchisees. The closed U.S. locations represent a relatively small portion of Subway’s global network and do not signal a complete shutdown.

Global Presence of Subway

With more than 37,000 restaurants in over 100 countries, Subway remains one of the largest restaurant chains worldwide. After McDonald’s and Starbucks, it has the most international locations, underlining its powerful global brand recognition.

Subway steadily expanded for decades, reaching its peak in 2015 with 27,103 U.S. stores. Though its domestic footprint has declined since then, Subway still has over 20,000 U.S. locations.

Internationally, its presence continues growing in markets like China, India, Mexico, and the U.K. This global scale demonstrates Subway’s enduring popularity and makes a complete brand shutdown highly unlikely.

Factors Contributing to Subway’s Rejections

Several factors have contributed to Subway’s falling store counts and revenues in recent years:

Health Trends

Subway benefited from health trends in the 2000s but did not effectively adapt as consumer definitions of “healthy eating” changed. Many now see fresh, organic, and less processed as healthy, while Subway’s highly customizable sandwiches seem less so.

Increased Competition

Subway faces fierce competition from new disruptive brands like Chipotle, Jimmy John’s, and Jersey Mike’s, which tout fresh, higher quality ingredients. Traditional rivals like McDonald’s and Wendy’s also now offer fresher menus. This ThreadPoolExecutor has stolen some of Subway’s health-conscious customer base.

Brand Perception Issues

Controversies surrounding Subway’s former spokesperson Jared Fogle severely damaged its family-friendly image. Questions about its tuna and chicken products have also emerged recently, hurting brand perception.

Supply Chain Challenges

Subway franchisees have complained about complex promotions, menu changes, and supply chain problems that have added to costs and complicated operations. This discontent has led some to close shops.

COVID-19 Impact

Government restrictions and customers’ virus concerns drastically impacted Subway’s dine-in business. Though Subway quickly pivoted to takeout, delivery, and drive-thru where possible, foot traffic remains down.

Subway’s Strategies for Revitalizing Its Brand

To overcome recent challenges and revamp its brand, Subway is implementing strategic changes:

Menu Innovation

Subway has introduced new sandwiches, wraps, bowls, and breakfast items to appeal to evolving tastes. It’s also enhancing the quality and presentation of menu items.

Store Redesigns

Subway is rolling out more modern, inviting store designs to improve the customer experience. New layouts, ordering options, and decor aim to make its locations fresher and more contemporary.

Digital Initiatives

From its app to loyalty program to social media presence, Subway is boosting its use of technology to improve customer convenience and engagement.

Supply Chain Improvements

To address franchisee complaints, Subway is simplifying its menu, improving supply chain coordination, and providing logistics support. This aims to reduce costs and ensure ingredient availability.

Targeted Expansion

While closing underperforming U.S. locations, Subway plans to open over 2,000 international stores in 2022. Targeted international growth represents a key strategy.

Is Complete Shutdown Looming?

Given its still massive size, loyal customer base, ongoing renewal efforts, and global name recognition, Subway shutting down completely seems very unlikely. The brand is clearly undergoing struggles, especially in North America. But its global reach and efforts to implement turnaround strategies suggest Subway plans to adapt and survive rather than shuttering its entire business.

While more U.S. closures are possible as Subway rightsizes its domestic presence, its international growth plans and dedication to improving indicate the future likely involves revitalization rather than complete failure. Subway’s decades of success and strong franchise model also give it an advantage for weathering periods of difficulty.

Outlook Going Forward

Subway faces an uphill battle to revamp its brand image and win back customers in a rapidly evolving restaurant landscape. Its initiatives around menu, stores, technology, supply chain, and targeted expansion signify key steps toward modernizing its business.

Franchise owners remain mostly optimistic about Subway’s future and the corporate support being provided. However, rising inflation and ongoing COVID-19 impacts could hinder rebound plans. Smooth execution of its revitalization strategies across thousands of franchises worldwide poses challenges too.

While Subway shutting down entirely is highly improbable, its path to regaining market share and brand strength will likely have obstacles. But its global scale, loyal devotees, and renewal efforts suggest Subway plans to adapt and keep making sandwiches for years to come. If the brand can successfully redefine itself for contemporary consumers, a full-scale comeback is not out of the question.


While Subway has faced closures of its franchises in various locations worldwide, the brand as a whole is not shutting down. Subway continues to operate thousands of locations globally and is actively working to address the challenges it faces.

Factors such as changing consumer preferences, increased competition, brand perception, over-expansion, lack of innovation, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to Subway’s decline in popularity.

However, through strategic initiatives focused on menu innovation, store refresh, enhanced marketing, streamlined operations, and franchisee support, Subway aims to regain its position as a leader in the fast-food industry.

With a strong commitment to its core values and the implementation of effective strategies, Subway is determined to secure its long-term success and maintain its status as a beloved sandwich chain.


Q: Is Subway shutting down?

A: No, Subway as a whole is not shutting down. While there have been closures of some franchises in certain locations, Subway continues to operate thousands of locations globally and is actively working to address challenges and implement strategies for growth and improvement.

Q: How is Subway addressing changing consumer preferences?

A: Subway is addressing changing consumer preferences by introducing new menu items and updating existing offerings. This includes adding plant-based options, emphasizing fresh ingredients, and improving the overall taste and quality of its sandwiches to cater to health-conscious and discerning consumers.

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