Starbucks, which has seen sales decline precipitously for the past five quarters, is giving away free coffee to everyone. It’s only a one day program but it still might have some investors scratching their heads and wondering if the company can really afford to give away a full day’s worth of sales.
The free coffee giveaway started as a smaller program, intended merely to reward voters. But Starbucks was quickly told that, as it turns out, you aren’t allowed to pay people to vote.
Election laws prevent individuals and organisations from offering monetary incentives to get people to the polls, keeping partisan hacks from bribing potential voters likely to swing their way. Unfortunately for national chains like Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, Ben & Jerry’s and sex-toys emporium Babeland, the definition of “monetary incentive” also includes offers of free stuff like coffee, doughnuts, ice cream, and, um, a certain sleeve-like contraption called “The Maverick.”
Starbucks decided to get around this prohibition by simply expanding the giveaway to everyone. Today anyone walking in to Starbucks will be entitled to a free coffee merely by asking.
Starbucks has been suffering from declining sales, but it’s executives have recently said that Starbucks’ sales declines have “bottomed out.” Sales reportedly didn’t decrease this month as fast as they had last quarter. Some are taking this as a sign that consumers may be feeling more confident that the government’s financial rescue programs have successfully avoided an economic depression.
The coffee giveaway and the recent announcement of a partnership with an African Aids activist group are part of an attempt by Starbucks promote spending at Starbucks as “good” for the world.
The company is scheduled to release fourth-quarter results on November 10th.
Here’s the video Starbucks produced to advertise the illegal voter-only giveaway.
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