Arby's defying odds, struggling during recession


What? Aren't fast food restaurants supposed to be, like, literally getting off on the recession? While Wendy's and McDonald's may be able to claim as much, the "America's Roast Beef, Yes Sir!" chain actually isn't doing so hot. Slate reports, "In every sector, it seems, if there's a winner, there's got to be a loser. And in the fast-food industry, it sure looks like Arby's has been one of the losers of this recession."

In a funny, information-dense article, the online mag attributes Arby's struggles to several factors:

1) Geography. The majority of the chain's outlets are in the Midwest, and the Midwest tends to show signs of a recession before the rest of the country. Further, the article points out, many Arby's are located in economically depressed neighborhoods.

2) Discounted prices. "If the prices of your offerings are falling, or people are spending less--if they're just getting the french dip and forgoing the potato bites loaded with bacon (though, really, if you're going down this road, you might as well go whole hog)--then stable traffic would still lead to sales reductions."

3) No memorable ads. The chain has also failed to market to consumers desiring healthier options or to boost its non-meat menu items the article says.

4) Just plain bad food. "As I scoured the menu--the gyro, the french dip, the patty melt--I had difficulty identifying anything that had gone through less processing than uranium. A few bites of a roast beef sandwich slathered with goopy cheddar sauce, and I was done. On the food chain, the thinly sliced beef is about as far from Boar's Head deli meat as Boar's Head oven-roasted ham is from the vaunted jamón Iberico."