Trouble brewing

November 11, 2008

For those who aren’t quite sure yet the economy is really in trouble:

Fewer customers and venti-sized costs for closing stores led to lower sales and profit in the fourth quarter at Starbucks Corp., the company reported Monday.

Starbucks said profit in the quarter fell 97 percent to $5.4 million, or a penny a share, from $158.5 million, or 21 cents per share. It earned 10 cents a share when the costs from closing about 600 stores in the U.S. and 61 locations in Australia are excluded.

Starbucks began shutting stores this summer in a campaign to reverse slowing sales.

Spending several bucks a cup for coffee was the perfect symbol of mindless discretionary spending, so it’s not too surprising Starbucks would be a quick victim of a downturn. Or maybe it was just a fad we were ready to let go of anyway. I remember rejoicing when Starbucks announced it was opening an outlet just a few blocks from my office, but I’ve yet to visit the place. Their coffee is strong, but the stuff I make at home and bring to work every day is even stronger, and a whole lot cheaper.

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