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Starbucks Records Larger-Than-Expected Fall In Quarterly Sales

By Dave Simpson

Starbucks Corp has recorded a larger-than-expected fall in quarterly sales as the renewed surge in coronavirus cases in the United States kept customers at home.

The world's largest coffee chain's global same-store sales fell by 5% in its first quarter, which ended on December 27, which was more than analysts' estimates of a 3.4% decline, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

The second wave of COVID-19 infections and accompanying restrictions dented traffic at the coffee chain's stores, hampering its efforts to boost demand through product launches and new drive-throughs.

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Comparable sales declined by 6% for the Americas region, compared with a 5.2% fall expected by analysts.

But in China, which is Starbucks' biggest growth market, comparable sales rose by 5% as the company benefitted from the popularity of its rewards programme and the return of pre-coronavirus consumer habits.

Customers also spent more money per order, helping to offset fewer transactions.

Starbucks also said that chief operating officer Roz Brewer will be leaving the company next month to take a chief executive officer role at another company.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc later announced that Brewer will take the helm at the company on March 15.

For the second quarter, Starbucks said that it expects US comparable sales to rise by between 5% and 10%, while in China they are forecast to grow nearly two-fold a year after the pandemic hit the region.

The company did not change its guidance of an expected rebound overall this year, with global comparable sales expected to rise by 18% to 23% in 2021.

Net revenue fell by 5% to $6.7 billion, missing expectations of $6.93 billion.

The Seattle-based company has been closing some stores, adding drive-throughs to others, remaking some with smaller cafés and building a few with no seating at all as it focusses on expanding to-go options.

Overall, the company opened 278 net new stores in the quarter, for 4% year over year growth. It now has 32,938 stores around the world, 51% of which are company-operated.

Rewards Loyalty Programme

Starbucks also saw coffee lovers return to its Rewards loyalty programme, with its count of 90-day active US members increasing by 15% year over year to 21.8 million.

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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