Starbucks to reopen 85% of its US stores by the end of the week

To all Starbucks partners and customers,

Over these past months, as the entire world has responded to the global pandemic of COVID-19, I have been inspired by the strength of humanity united in common cause — the compassion shown by those working in service of others — as well as the courage, emotional resolve and attitude of optimism demonstrated as we overcome adversity.

At Starbucks, that inspiration has come from our partners, whose dedication and ability to adapt leaves me feeling proud every day. During this unprecedented challenge, Starbucks partners have risen to the occasion every step of the way and have shown up for their communities and front-line responders. Our partners make Starbucks resilient, and that gives me immense confidence that we can overcome any challenge we face.

As so many in our family of partners come back this week, responsibly re-opening stores across the United States, we are poised to adapt very rapidly, in meaningful ways that enhance the Starbucks Experience for our partners, customers, and the communities we serve. We are accelerating many forward-looking initiatives to address the realities of the current situation. We do this to provide a safe, familiar and convenient experience for our customers.

These adaptations will reinforce the concept of the third place— a warm and welcoming place, outside of our homes and our workspaces, where we connect and build community. We think of the third place as a mindset — a feeling of comfort that uplifts customers everywhere, and in every way, they experience Starbucks. And the third place has never been more relevant than now, as communities seek to reconnect and heal.

Starbucks is proud to be an active participant in tens of thousands of communities battling this crisis and working toward a time of healing. 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.”

Health officials tell us it could be many months until there are effective COVID-19 treatments and a vaccine. As we gradually come out of isolation, people will crave the connection and community that are fundamental to humanity. However, customers will want experiences that are safe, familiar and convenient. With health and safety prioritized, we are defining the future of Starbucks to meet evolving customer expectations and societal change.

Starbucks is committed to create a third place experience that is exactly tuned to that need — providing safe, familiar and convenient experiences.

By the end of this week, Starbucks partners will have responsibly reopened over 85 percent our company operated stores across the U.S., and we are expecting more than 90 percent of our stores to be open by early June, under modified operations and hours.The foundation of our approach comes from what we have learned in China, where more than 98 percent of our stores are now open and operating under revised 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, including heightened emphasis on cleaning and sanitizing protocols in our stores.

We have expanded service beyond drive-thru to include mobile ordering for contactless pick-up, delivery and, in some locations, curbside pickup and grab-and-go through the café.

We are putting immense emphasis on the safest and most convenient way for customers to order their favorites from Starbucks. Nearly 20 million customers are using the Starbucks App as part of their daily routines and as those routines evolve, we’ll be finding ways to tailor the app to customers’ individual needs.

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. We will also shift toward more cashless experiences, knowing that the handling of cash creates consumer concerns about the spread of viruses. We predict the mobile app will become the dominant form of payment.

We continue to invest in our Deep Brew suite of artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, and we will double down there as well. One immediate Deep Brew solution supports our operations and field leadership team as they make data-driven decisions related to store re-openings and operating protocols. And the Tryer Center, which we opened last year to innovate on store design and in other areas, has kicked into overdrive as well. These investments were made with an eye toward innovation and the future of Starbucks; they’re now poised to help us adapt as we accelerate a retail transformation.

Starbucks is well-positioned for this transformation. Pre-COVID-19, more than 80 percent of customer orders in the U.S. were for “on the go” — through the drive-thru, in a café at point-of-sale or through Mobile Order for pickup or delivery. That means the majority of Starbucks customers are already familiar with the safe, convenient experiences that are now called for by physical distancing recommendations.

As we adapt, we build on our heritage and remain focused on our mission: To inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.

As this global pandemic has impacted the lives of everyone on the planet, I have been reflecting on how significant generational life experiences reshape humanity. I immediately thought about lessons I learned from my grandfather. When I was a young boy, he shared stories of his life growing up during the Great Depression and serving in WWII. Those life experiences taught him to appreciate the simple things in life, the things that are often taken for granted, like good health and loving relationships. This global pandemic will serve as a reminder that life is fragile and create a renewed appreciation for health, love and joy.

On the other side of this challenge, we will treasure human connections — from warm embraces with our loved ones to small everyday interactions with those in our communities — like we never have before. Human connections will not only be restored, but reinforced and re-invigorated. The third place will not just survive, but with adaptations and new routines, it will thrive.

And when that happens, as my grandfather did for me, I will share wonderful stories about my life experience with my grandchildren, knowing that Starbucks will be there for them and future generations to come.

With gratitude,