Starbucks locations across the country will soon reopen, with most stores offering pickup and drive-thru service but keeping seating areas closed for now.
Kevin Johnson, chief executive officer of Starbucks, said in a statement that more than 85 percent of the coffee chain's U.S. locations will reopen by Saturday (May 8) but with new safety protocols and hours of operation. Over 90 percent of locations will open by early June with the same modifications.
Johnson said Starbucks will continue to offer a “third place” for customers, which is especially needed amid the stay-home mandates prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. The third place concept revolves around giving people a comfortable environment outside of homes and offices.
“We think of the third place as a mindset — a feeling of comfort that uplifts customers everywhere, and in every way, they experience Starbucks,” Johnson said. “And the third place has never been more relevant than now, as communities seek to reconnect and heal.”
Starbucks closed over 50 percent of locations across the U.S. and Canada due to the coronavirus pandemic. On March 20, the only locations that remained open were the ones with drive-thrus and those stores closed all seating areas. As a result, sales dropped an average of 25 percent per location.
“After seven weeks of sheltering at home in the U.S., we have embraced an approach of monitoring, rapidly adapting to, and even shaping, the ‘now normal,’” Johnson said. “With health and safety prioritized, we are defining the future of Starbucks to meet evolving customer expectations and societal change.”
The CEO said the reopening approach stems from lessons learned in China, where some 98 percent of Starbucks locations have reopened with new protocols.
“We have adapted these protocols for the U.S. and our goal is to exceed the standards outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a safe experience,” he said.
He added that there will be more emphasis on cleaning and sanitizing procedures across all stores in the U.S. and Canada.
The reopening will include drive-thru service, mobile ordering for contactless pickup and delivery. Some locations will also offer curbside pickup and grab-and-go through the café.
“The third place experience created by Starbucks partners in our stores is extended and enhanced by the digital relationships we have with our customers. Our Starbucks App will enable new features, including optimizing for curbside pick-up, entryway handoff, improved drive-thru experiences, voice ordering through Siri and the ability for everyone to earn stars that can be redeemed for rewards,” he said.
Mobile ordering is becoming more popular, with almost 50 million people expected to be using food delivery apps by 2021. The April Mobile Order-Ahead Tracker by PYMNTS explores the latest digital ordering developments, including measures that restaurants and delivery apps are taking to continue operating during the pandemic, how some of these steps have backfired and how quick-service restaurants (QSRs) are battling the uptick in fraud attempts.