Auntie Anne’s had 1,152 domestic units to end 2020, a drop of 59 from the previous year, according to its FDD. Of that amount, 1,140 were franchised. Last year, 622 enclosed mall franchises earned $346,939 in average net sales, or a 33 percent decrease year-over-year. The figure doesn't include 12 mall franchises that opened in 2020 and 45 mall-based franchises that permanently closed. Additionally, 94 outlet center franchises brought in $430,405 in average net sales in 2020, or a 23 percent decrease compared to 2019. The amount excludes one outlet center franchise that opened and three that permanently shut down.
Because of COVID restrictions, malls have suffered greatly through most of the pandemic. Monthly visits dropped 95 percent in April 2020 year-over-year and 80.8 percent in May, according to Placer.ai’s index of over 50 top-tier malls. However, traffic is returning. March’s mall visits were down 23.9 percent compared to 2019, the smallest gap since the pandemic started. Then again, some suggest the demise of malls was underway pre-COVID and that the pandemic just accelerated the process. In August, Coresight Research estimated 25 percent of the U.S.’s 1,000 malls will shut down in the next three to five years.
Auntie Anne’s is exploring a variety of locations outside the mall, including more drive-thru stores, co-branded locations, spots near colleges and universities, and mobile food trucks. More than 25 percent of Jamba units have a drive-thru, and the chain is “aggressively looking” to add drive-thru to 50 percent of new locations. Focus Brands said the chain is already receiving interest from franchisees to add Auntie Anne’s.
“Auntie Anne’s has become synonymous with malls and airports, but for some time we’ve been looking for opportunities to grow outside of those traditional locations to give our guests greater access to a brand they love,” said Kristen Hartman, specialty category president of Focus Brands, in a statement. “Today, we have a number of Auntie Anne’s streetside locations paired with Cinnabon and Carvel. The opportunities that become available when we leverage the power of our full portfolio are endless. I’m incredibly excited to see that through co-branding we are able to add the drive-thru experience to the Auntie Anne’s portfolio and can’t wait to see how guests respond to this enhanced accessibility.”