Jimmy Gets Inspired

Inspire Brands, owner of restaurant chains Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Sonic, recently added the Jimmy John’s sandwich chain to its portfolio. We dug into location data to see how the brand is performing and where its growth potential may lie.

Make Way for Jimmy

To start, we looked at the Jimmy John’s chain’s performance in 2019, and compared it to sandwich maven, Subway. The chains exhibit similar overall growth trends, but Jimmy John’s (blue) shows significantly higher baseline growth than Subway (red) relative to January 2019. While higher relative growth is to be expected for a smaller chain like Jimmy John’s (Subway sees over ten times more traffic) the growth is still a critical indicator of the brand’s huge potential.

Both Jimmy John’s and Subway see the majority of their traffic during the afternoon hours. In fact, a whopping 47.7% of all Jimmy John’s visits occur between the afternoon hours of 12:00 and 3:00 pm. Because lunchtime is already such a strong traffic period, expanding dinner menu options could be a great way to maximize traffic during the evening hours. 

As for the New Family…

As for the rest of the Inspired portfolio, it’s interesting to note the seasonality of each chain. 

Jimmy John’s shows a weak winter season, with very strong summer performance. 

Meanwhile, Arby’s had a strong late winter to early spring, with a similarly strong summer season.

Buffalo Wild Wings, on the other hand, peaked from mid-winter to early spring season, with a heavy drop in mid-spring and slight pick-up in the summer months. All three chains experience a significant traffic dip towards the start of fall 2019.

Buffalo Wild Wings’s strength, unlike Jimmy Johns and Arby’s, lies in the evening hours. 44.1% of visits are from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm, making this a great late-night destination.


It’s clear why the sandwich joint is potentially a great addition to this QSR portfolio. It’s been exhibiting continuous baseline growth throughout the year, and trending on par with Subway, the leader in the sandwich category. Jimmy John’s ability to manage seasonal drops, and to continue to own the daytime peaks while maximizing evening hour potential will certainly affect its long-term success. Additionally, its ability to keep up with industry trends, such as the meat substitute trend that big players, among them Subway, will help the brand stay relevant in a highly competitive market. 

But the most interesting impact could be a push to help the sandwich chain expand its peak hours into the evening. A successful move into dinner could offer a huge potential return.

Check back in at the Placer.ai blog to see how this move pans out.  

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