Starbucks announces curbside pickup, return of the #PSL

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 A Starbucks location in New York City displays a welcoming sign in the window in May 2020.
A Starbucks location in New York City displays a welcoming sign in the window in May 2020.
Photo: John Lamparski (Getty Images)

In June, we shared the news that Starbucks planned to close as many as 400 underperforming locations in the U.S. and Canada. At the time, the company mentioned that it would be spending the next 18 months focused on expanding the number of drive-thru and pickup-only locations—a reflection of the times we find ourselves in. This week, in an earnings call, Starbucks officials confirmed that it would be speeding up the rollout of those “convenience-led formats” and offering expanded curbside pickup for the first time. CEO Kevin Johnson announced that curbside pickup will be launched at 700-1,000 stores by the end of the quarter.

It’s a good time for Starbucks to be throwing everything at the wall. According to USA Today, representatives on the earnings call confirmed that 96% of U.S. Starbucks locations were currently in operation (the major exceptions being locations in and around airports and college campuses); however, global same-store sales have seen a 40% drop between April and June, as people began to recalibrate the aspects of their daily lives and decide which were worth leaving the house for. Starbucks is no doubt hoping that piling on added convenience will coax people out of their homes and into the welcoming embrace of a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Oh yeah, did we mention the PSL is on its way back to stores, too? What an exciting earnings call it was! A specific date wasn’t announced for the return of everyone’s favorite sippable punching bag, but in 2018, its August 28 arrival was the earliest PSL debut ever, and last year, it returned on August 27. Will Starbucks push the envelope even further this year, showing no mercy to those of us who wish to wring every last drop of enjoyment out of summer before we must retreat to our living rooms for an extended season of forced coziness?