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COVID-19: Starbucks Closing Up To 400 Stores In Shift To Takeout Strategy

A Starbucks Pickup store. Photo Credit: Starbucks
The inside of a Starbucks Pickup store. Photo Credit: Starbucks
A regular Starbucks store Photo Credit: Pixabay

Starbucks will close up to 400 of its traditional cafes due to fallout from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has put a stop to indoor dining in many areas.

The company announced on Wednesday, June 10 that it will open dozens of pickup-only stores and renovate or move other existing stores in the United States and Canada in the next 18 months.

“Starbucks stores have always been known as the ’third place,’ a welcoming place outside of our home and work where we connect over a cup of coffee,” said Kevin Johnson, the CEO of Starbucks. “As we navigate through the COVID-19 crisis, we are accelerating our store transformation plans to address the realities of the current situation, while still providing a safe, familiar and convenient experience for our customers.”

The transformation includes the expansion of new Starbucks Pickup stores in dense markets, including New York City, Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco, and convenience-led enhancements such as curbside, drive-thru and walk-up windows in suburban areas. 

The first Pickup store has been operating in Penn Plaza in New York City since November 2019 and soon a second location in New York City will open at 42nd and Park near Grand Central Terminal. 

The company said: "With customers’ increased use of the Starbucks App to order ahead, and the national availability of Starbucks Delivers through Uber Eats, Starbucks will also renovate select store layouts, including the addition of a separate counter for mobile orders at high volume stores, which will make it easier for customers and delivery couriers to pick up their order. 

"Core to the Starbucks Experience is the connection between the customer and partners (employees). Starbucks' new designs will enable partners to focus on the customer and craft beverages, as well as enhance how partners work together."

In addition to Pickup stores, customers will soon be able to utilize curbside pickup from their car. 

Customers will use the Starbucks App to order and pay ahead as well as check-in at designated parking spots at the store once they arrive. 

Curbside pickup is an experience accelerated due to the COVID crisis as well as customers’ increasing need for convenience in on-the-go occasions. 

Over the coming months, Starbucks will increase the number of stores that offer curbside pickup as well as pilot a select number of locations to exclusively offer this format.  

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