updated 7/9/2008 6:38:36 PM ET 2008-07-09T22:38:36

Starbucks Corp. is testing several types of promotions in stores across the country, a move it hopes will help counter the decline in domestic store traffic that led to a decision to close 600 stores.

  1. More on Food trends
    1. Satisfy your craving

      Look for more exciting eats and foodie trends on the Bites blog

“One of the things we’re consistently hearing in this day and age (is), even though budgets are tight, they still don’t want to give up life’s little luxuries,” said Brad Stevens, vice president of customer relationship management at Starbucks, in an interview Wednesday. “They consider Starbucks one of those luxuries.”

The promotions vary by region and timing. Starbucks would not say how many stores are planning promotions, only that the majority of its more than 11,000 U.S. stores will offer some sort of deal between now and early September.

For example, through July 23, Starbucks is giving away 12-ounce iced coffees on Wednesdays to customers in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, Boston and Detroit who present an “iced brewed coffee card,” a reusable voucher distributed in stores and newspaper inserts.

Through July 14, coffee drinkers in Atlanta and Indianapolis can get a free 12-ounce hot or iced coffee every day with a similar card.

In other cities around the country, Starbucks is making twice-a-day customers’ afternoon coffee easier on the wallet. Depending on the city, customers with a morning receipt can buy a 16-ounce cold beverage for $2 after 2 p.m., or get a $1 discount on a cold drink after 1 p.m.

And elsewhere, the company is selling discounted drinks throughout the day on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The different deals are meant to reflect regional differences in the way people take their coffee, said Stevens, and to draw in new customers at a time when Starbucks is struggling with falling traffic in U.S. stores. In its fiscal second quarter, which ended March 30, Starbucks’ profit sank 28 percent as U.S. consumers made fewer trips to its stores, especially in areas hit hardest by the housing market’s collapse, like Florida and California.

On July 1, the company announced it would close 600 company-operated stores in the next year, up from its earlier forecast for 100 closings, citing ongoing economic troubles in the U.S. The company also indicated that store density was part of the problem, and said the vast majority of unprofitable stores to be shuttered had been opened close to another existing location.

Starbucks will wait to see if the promotions prove popular before deciding which, if any, it might extend.

“With the economy the way it is right now, people want value, but they want value that is relevant to them,” Stevens said.

He said Starbucks will only go so far in its drive to make its expensive coffees more affordable, and it has no plans to join the likes of McDonald’s Corp. and Burger King Corp. by offering a dollar menu that could clash with Starbucks’ luxury image.

Stevens would not say whether or how much the promotions would eat into Starbucks’ profits, but William Blair analyst Sharon Zackfia said in an interview that it is unlikely to be detrimental.

Zackfia said vouchers and discounts could help get people back into the habit of buying a coffee at Starbucks, and she was particularly encouraged by the company’s focus on afternoon deals.

“Starbucks in particular seems to have been more susceptible in the afternoon. That’s probably not the necessary beverage to get you through the day,” Zackfia said.

But, she added, whether the promotions are “a game changer or not, who knows.”

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

Data: Latest rates in the US

Home equity rates View rates in your area
Home equity type Today +/- Chart
$30K HELOC FICO 3.79%
$30K home equity loan FICO 4.99%
$75K home equity loan FICO 4.69%
Credit card rates View more rates
Card type Today +/- Last Week
Low Interest Cards 13.83%
Cash Back Cards 17.80%
Rewards Cards 17.18%
Source: Bankrate.com