Starbucks says a lack of festivity is to blame for last year’s holiday sales slump, and it’s doubling down on seasonal cheer

Starbucks’ ‘war on Christmas’ is officially over. Starbucks
  • Starbucks is kicking off holiday celebrations a week early this Friday, with in-store decorations and increased marketing.
  • Last year, the chain’s holiday sales slumped in part because stores “didn’t sufficiently reflect the festive environment,” Chief Operating Officer Roz Brewer said on a call with investors on Thursday.
  • Starbucks has faced accusations of waging a “war on Christmas” in years past, with some customers demanding a greater emphasis on Christmas festivities in marketing.

Consider Starbucks’ rumoured “war on Christmas” officially over.

On Thursday, the coffee giant announced it would be doubling down on festive cheer in 2018, after holiday sales slumped in 2017.

“Last year, our stores didn’t sufficiently reflect the festive environment,” Chief Operating Officer Roz Brewer said on a call with investors on Thursday.

Starbucks’ US same-store sales fell 2% in the quarter that ended on December 31, 2017, due in large part to the chain’s disappointing sales on holiday beverages, merchandise and gift cards.

Starbucks is doubling down on holiday festivities. Starbucks

Brewer said that the chain used feedback from customers to rework its seasonal game plan for 2018. Starbucks will launch its full holiday assortment on Friday, more than a full week earlier than it did last year.

Starbucks is going all-in on holiday festivities this year, with stores getting decked out in seasonal decor and baristas donning red aprons starting this Friday. Friday will additionally see the return of Starbucks’ red cups and seasonal menu items. The company is also pushing its holiday assortment with a “more robust” media plan.

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Starbucks’ revamped red cups are back despite past scandals – here’s what they look like this year

In years past, Starbucks has faced accusations of a lack of seasonal merriness, especially as it relates to Christmas.

In 2015, the chain’s minimalist red cups faced backlash after a video claiming that Starbucks “removed Christmas from their cups” went viral. The cups quickly became a topic of discussion for major publications, late-night talk show hosts, and even Donald Trump, then a presidential candidate.

While Starbucks only mentioned “holiday” – as opposed to Christmas – decor and menu items, it seems unlikely that the chain will be accused of being insufficiently festive in 2018, if all goes according to executives’ plans.

On Thursday, Starbucks reported fourth-quarter revenue of $US6.3 billion, exceeding the $US6.27 billion Bloomberg expectation. Same-store sales in the US increased 4%, beating expectations of 2-3%.