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Starbucks to Close More Than 400 Stores, Expand Pickup Options

The coffee giant gets cut down to size

Courtesy of Starbucks

Starbucks began the slow process of reopening in May -- with signage to promote social distancing, limited store capacity, and temperature checks for staffers. But now, the Seattle-based coffee giant is taking one step back and one step forward, closing down 400 locations across North America and speeding up the expansion of its "convenience-led" store model

In addition to closures, which will occur across the United States and Canada over the next 18 months, Starbucks is cutting back on new developments in 2020, slashing half of its planned store openings from 600 to 300. 

"This reflects the accelerated repositioning of a number of company-operated stores as we blend store formats and strategically optimize our portfolio primarily in U.S. urban markets as outlined above," CEO Kevin Johnson said in an open letter on Wednesday. "This repositioning will include the closure of up to 400 company-operated stores over the next 18 months in conjunction with the opening, over time, of a greater number of new, repositioned stores in different locations and with innovative store formats." 

Though the chain's plans for more dedicated drive-thru and pickup developments were stalled as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic in March, the company is now working to resume progress. Over the next 18 months, Starbucks will expand its pickup-only store format in dense metropolitan areas like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, increase the number of stores offering curbside pickup in suburban communities, grow its drive-thru experiences, and accommodate for more mobile app purchases. 

"We have a clear vision for our 'Bridge to the Future,' and we are accelerating our plans to transform our store portfolio, elevate the customer experience for this new era, and drive long-term growth," Johnson said in the statement. 

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Megan Schaltegger is a staff writer at Thrillist.