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Retailers, consumers and prices

Starbucks outlines gun policy amid fracas

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starbucks33Last month, we wrote a blog about a controversy over Starbucks decision not to ban guns in its cafes.

The fracas started when groups of pistol-packing, open-carry gun rights activists exercised their rights by visiting Northern California restaurants and cafes. Their actions prompted companies like Peet’s Coffee & Tea and California Pizza Kitchen to prohibit firearms in their outlets. But Starbucks, even when pressed by the influential Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, has declined to follow suit — a position that has been lauded by gun rights supporters and condemned by people who only want to see the police and military packing heat at Starbucks.

The controversy refuses to go away and Starbucks released a new statement on the issue:

“We recognize that there is significant and genuine passion surrounding the issue of open carry weapons laws. Advocacy groups from both sides of this issue have chosen to use Starbucks as a way to draw attention to their positions. While we deeply respect the views of all our customers, Starbucks long-standing approach to this issue remains unchanged.

Gun rights group + Starbucks = free buzz

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starbucksguys

Want to get a little free publicity for your traditionally conservative cause (the right to openly carry guns in public places)? Target a big, well-known company that caters to so-called latte-sipping liberals (Starbucks).

That’s exactly what open-carry guns rights advocates in California are doing. It’s obviously working, or we in the media wouldn’t be writing about it.

Check Out Line: Trading the $1 burger for the $3 latte

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mcdCheck out profits rising at McDonald’s, the world’s largest hamburger chain.

But while profits rose, the results showed the chain’s U.S. business continued to lag its international operations.  U.S. same-store sales rose 1 percent in December, after two months of declines. Globally, same-store sales rose 2.3 percent for the quarter and 2.7 percent in December.

Starbucks: Decaf Via coming soon

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starbucks20via20ready20brewStarbucks says it will start selling a decaf version of its Via instant coffee in the United States on Nov 17.

The coffee chain, which in the middle of a corporate turnaround, hopes that Via will help it grab a big piece the $21 billion instant coffee market from established players like Nestle’s Nescafe and Kraft Foods Inc’s Sanka.

Thrifty tips from Starbucks

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barista1In its battle to end the myth of the $4 Starbucks coffee — the world’s biggest cafe chain is offering tips on how to save money in its cafes, which are lowering prices on some beverages as they battle market newcomer McDonald’s.

Here are some tips from Susan Nodilo, manager of a popular Starbucks in West Hollywood.

Is your Starbucks saved from the hit list?

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coronastarbucks3Starbucks Chief Financial Officer Troy Alstead earlier this week had some good news for its fans in places like Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Mobile, Alabama, and El Segundo, California.

Alstead said Starbucks removed 30 stores from its hit list of store closures, saying that each of the saved stores had improved profitability to a point where it made sense to keep them open.

Shift FROM thrift? Are diners trading up?

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olivegardenAfter a much heralded “shift to thrift” during what has become the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression, diners are now saying they plan to spend less money at cheap fast-food chains and more at some pricier eateries like Darden‘s Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains, Chipotle and Maggiano’s Little Italy from Brinker

“Trading up is supported by fewer customers saying they’re ordering less expensive items, skipping beverages and choosing less expensive restaurants,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Larry Miller wrote in a client note. Miller regularly polls diners about their spending plans. 

Starbucks: So long, Sorbetto

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(Updated with Starbucks comment)

sorbetto1Starbucks is saying so long to Sorbetto, its “Pinkberry-inspired” icy summer beverage.

The coffee chain made a splash when it debuted the tart and fruity product in around 300 Southern California stores last summer.

On the front lines of the coffee war

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mcdonaldsstarbucks2By Laura Isensee

On her way to work in downtown Los Angeles, banker Teresa Roman recently picked up a large iced vanilla coffee. Her cup had no green mermaid, the iconic Starbucks symbol. Instead, it displayed McDonald’s famed golden arches.

Roman switched from Starbucks iced coffee to McDonald’s when the fast-food giant started selling lattes, mochas and cappuccinos as part of its McCafe beverage expansion that launched officially earlier this year.

Starbucks workers will pay more for health insurance

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schultzinsuranceStarbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz says the coffee chain now pays almost as much for employee health care as it does for coffee beans, so the company long-known for its generous health benefits will begin passing more of those costs to employees.

The news from Starbucks comes amid skyrocketing U.S. health-care costs that are forcing American companies large and small to hike employee health-care contributions,  cut back on coverage, or eliminate it altogether.

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