Starbucks Plans to Close Up to 400 Stores to Focus on Pickup and Drive-Thru Business

The closed stores may be replaced by Starbucks drive-thrus.

To say COVID-19 has changed the way we shop and eat would be a vast understatement. Just one year ago, “curbside pickup” and “social distancing” were rarely, if ever, used in conversation. In 2020, they’re essential considerations—and businesses have to adapt or face the consequences (we’ll miss you, Pier 1).

Starbucks is ready to make a change. They’ll be closing up to 400 stores in the aftermath of COVID-19; but there’s some good news here, too.

Why Is Starbucks Closing Stores?

The main reason Starbucks is closing stores is so that it can focus on what it calls “innovative store formats,” which prioritize to-go menu options. They’ll be adding 300 locations with features like double-lane drive-thrus, walk-up windows and curbside pickup. In areas like New York City and Chicago, customers will see more Starbucks Pickup stores, aka locations where you order and pay exclusively through the Starbucks app.

Apparently, the chain was considering this move before the pandemic. In fact, Starbucks says 80% of its sales were already to-go purchases. Now, given the way we’ve all settled into minimal-contact dining and shopping (six feet apart, please!), Starbucks figured it’s right right time to make a move.

We’re not totally sold on the Starbucks drive-thru (it’s often a longer wait than going inside), but as long as we’re able to order a Frappuccino, we’ll be happy!

When Will the Closures Happen?

Starbucks will shut its contact-heavy stores down sometime within the next 18 months. There’s no word yet on which ones will close, but if your favorite shop is a sit-down cafe, it’s not an automatic cause for concern. Starbucks doesn’t plan to shutter every store without a drive-thru.

Ideally, the chain wants to have a mix of sit-down cafe and pickup locations, which sounds just fine to us. And you can always create that coffee-shop atmosphere at home with these Starbucks copycat recipes—including a copycat Pink Drink, which is perfect for summer.

Coffee Shop-Inspired Drinks to Make at Home
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Emily Hannemann
Emily adores both food and writing, so combining those passions as a writer for Taste of Home makes perfect sense. Her work has also appeared in Birds & Blooms and on TV Insider. When she’s not eating peanut butter straight from the jar, you'll find her running or birdwatching. Emily is currently a journalism graduate student at the University of Missouri.