SEATTLE — Starbucks is accelerating plans to add more drive-thrus and to-go only locations and will focus on relocating stores away from low-traffic malls.
Under the company’s “Bridge to the Future” plan, store transformations will occur in the next 12 to 18 months instead of the original three- to five-year timeframe.
“This transformation is particularly true in dense metro area,” said Kevin R. Johnson, chief executive officer at Starbucks. “Over the last two years, we studied how customers experience our stores in dense markets and have realized that increased mobile pickup orders were crowding our stores and reducing the quality of the experience for many customers.”
The company will add more stores modeled after its first pick-up only location, which launched in New York City in 2019. It also will continue rolling out curbside pickup and delivery services at existing locations.
Stores began reopening for delivery, drive-thru and takeout in the second week of May and are tracking slightly above the forecasted recovery curve, Mr. Johnson said. The company has regained between 60% and 65% of prior-year comparable US store sales while reopening under modified operations and reduced hours.
“We are pleased with our progress, but we are by no means immune to this global pandemic,” Mr. Johnson said. “We know that it will take time to fully recover and post positive comparable-store sales growth.”
The company expects reduced hours to continue for the foreseeable future, even as social distancing guidelines and restrictions on businesses continue to ease.
“Consumers will be cautious as they return to work or go back to school,” Mr. Johnson said. “And with over 36 million Americans suddenly out of work and concerned about their future, there are questions about the overall shape of the economic recovery in this COVID-19 economy.”
Starbucks has asked landlords for rent breaks for its corporate-owned units beginning in June. It also extended its unpaid leave policy through the end of September.