Starbucks pumpkin spice sales hit record high after early launch

Starbucks is staging a fall comeback from the coronavirus — and it’s pumpkin-flavored.

Sales of Starbucks’ trendy pumpkin beverages hit a new high in the last quarter after the coffee giant started brewing them earlier than ever.

The Seattle-based chain moved a record number of average daily units of drinks in its pumpkin portfolio, which went on sale in late August, CEO Kevin Johnson said Thursday. The boom was led by the “Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew,” which outsold the iconic Pumpkin Spice Latte in only its second year on the market, he said.

Starbucks didn’t provide more specifics about pumpkin spice sales in its Thursday earnings report for the July-to-September quarter. But Johnson said the drinks were a “catalyst” for its stronger-than-expected recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, which forced it to shutter many cafes earlier in the year.

The chain’s comparable sales dropped 9 percent compared to the prior-year quarter, beating Wall Street estimates for a 12.1 percent drop as customers spent about 11 percent more on the average order.

Comparable sales at Starbucks’ more than 15,000 US stores were only off 4 percent in September, improving from an 11 percent drop in August in the first full month of pumpkin spice season, Johnson said.

Chief operating officer Roz Brewer also attributed the bump to adjustments the company made in response to consumers’ changing behavior amid the pandemic, such as streamlining drive-through service. Stores are seeing more customers arrive later in the morning as they tweak their daily routines, she said.

“As the customer was adjusting, we were adjusting along with them,” Brewer said on a conference call with investors.

Despite the rebound, Starbucks’ net profits for the quarter fell about 51 percent to $392.6 million. The company’s stock price was down 1.8 percent at $86.70 as of 10:29 a.m. Friday.

With Post wires

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