Financial Performance

Starbucks’ U.S. Sales Fall Amid COVID-19 Surge

The first quarter saw "meaningful, sequential improvements in quarterly financial results despite ongoing business disruption from the pandemic."
Matthew HellerJanuary 27, 2021

Starbucks’ quarterly earnings beat Wall Street estimates but same-store sales in the U.S. dropped, reflecting reduced customer traffic and store closures due to the surge in new COVID-19 infections.

For the first quarter, Starbucks reported adjusted earnings of 61 cents per share as total net sales fell 5% to $6.75 million. Analysts had expected earnings of 55 cents per share on revenue of $6.93 billion.

Same-store sales, a key retail metric, declined 5% in the U.S., while international comparable sales dipped 3%, benefiting from a 5% increase in China, Starbucks’ second-largest market.

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China sales have largely rebounded from the pandemic along with the broader economy. Comp sales in China turned positive for the first time since the health crisis started, although transactions still declined by 3% compared with the same time a year ago.

“I am very pleased with our start to fiscal 2021, with meaningful, sequential improvements in quarterly financial results despite ongoing business disruption from the pandemic,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a news release.

“Investments in our partners, beverage innovation, and digital customer relationships continued to fuel our recovery and position Starbucks for long-term, sustainable growth,” he added.

Mobile orders accounted for a quarter of transactions in the first quarter, up from 17% pre-COVID.

As CNBC reports, Starbucks’ recovery in the U.S. during the last three months of 2020 “was hampered by another surge in COVID-19 cases as the temperatures grew colder.” Same-store sales fell just 3% in October but were down 8% by December.

“Some U.S. states added back restrictions on businesses and public gatherings this winter as COVID-19 cases have risen, including bans on indoor dining,” The Wall Street Journal noted.

For the second quarter, Starbucks is forecasting U.S. same-store sales growth of 5% to 10%, with January sales expected to turn positive. The company also expects to earn $2.42 to $2.62 a share for the full fiscal year, up slightly from its previous guidance.

“We remain optimistic about our robust operating outlook for fiscal 2021 as well as our ability to unlock the full potential of Starbucks to create value for our stakeholders,” Johnson said.