Starbucks Plans Gradual Reopening Beginning in May

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson wrote a memo to staff saying the coffee-bar giant is "thoughtfully preparing" to reopen stores next month.
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Starbucks  (SBUX) - Get Report is preparing to gradually reopen stores in the U.S., with a "significant" number of them coming in May. 

The coffee retailer says this decision is based on the progress that has been made to contain the coronavirus pandemic, which has crippled the U.S. economy.

Starbucks did not set a specific date for the ramp in operations, but said it would use a "monitor and adapt" approach. 

“As we experienced in China, this will be a journey. We are thoughtfully preparing for this next phase as we adapt in the U.S.," Chief Executive Kevin Johnson said in a memo to staff. 

On March 18 Starbucks said that 90% of its stores in China, where covid-19 originated, were open. It had closed the stores in January. 

The reopenings of some stores will vary among mobile orders, drive-through, pickup as well as to-go service in some locations.

The Seattle company said that more than 60% of its store formats in the U.S. include a drive-through while about 80% of all customer orders were placed "on-the-go" even before the coronavirus outbreak. 

Separately, Starbucks said it was extending temporary covid-19 benefits for its U.S. employees, including higher hourly pay for workers willing to come in during the pandemic. 

Starbucks has been paying all its employees since it began shutting operations in the U.S., with full compensation paid through May 3 whether they work or not. 

Starbucks shares at last check were 0.7% higher at $73.07.