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Starbucks to Stop Serving Wine and Beer

Cliff Peterson

If you enjoy sipping a glass of wine or beer while relaxing at a local Starbucks, it’s about to become  a little more difficult. Starbucks has decided to stop sell wine or Beer anymore at most of its locations, with only certain exclusive stores continuing to sell alcoholic beverages such.

“Starbucks Evenings” Will Fizzle Out Into the Sunset

The company has had an initiative called “Starbucks Evenings,” and that has included the sale in stores of alcoholic beverages like wine and beer as well as additional food selections. This has taken place not just in the United States, but also in various overseas locations. But that strategy will soon be retired in most locations throughout the country. The only stores that will sell wine will be high-end cafe-type spots.

Make Way for Upscale Starbucks

Just as “Starbucks Evenings” bids farewell, wine sales will continue to occur at the company’s high-end Roastery and Reserve shops. Those are located not just in the United States, as a Roastery location is expected to open in Shanghai in 2017. That will be followed up by locations in New York and Tokyo next year.

By 2021, Starbucks anticipates that 20% of its locations will include Reserve coffee bars. Perhaps this will be a good strategy for Starbucks to mainly focus on selling wine at the upscale spots, which are expected to expand in number down the road.

Impact on the Wine Industry

As Starbucks is such a prominent company with many locations all over the country, the impact on the wine industry of Starbucks not selling wine at as many locations is sure to be significant. The industry will not be able to count on that significant customer to keep sales flowing. However, perhaps things will even out and wine sales will improve again as Starbucks revamps and begins selling more wine at the upscale locations.

Background and History

Starbucks began its venture into the sale of alcoholic beverages in its locations when it started staying open later and selling wine and beer at a few locations in the Seattle area in 2009. That eventually expanded to hundreds of the company’s locations. The company has been historically known as one that owns and manages coffee shops, and the brand has never really been associated with the sale of any other products. But several years ago, it wanted to operate more like a true coffeehouse by selling alcoholic beverages. Having sales continue later in the day than when customers typically buy and drink coffee was likely another reason for trying that business approach.

It makes sense for Starbucks to get back to its roots by focusing on coffee in all but a smaller number of locations. It will be interesting to see how the changing product selections will affect customer attitudes toward the coffee shop company. The company clearly believes that these recent decisions are best for the bottom line, and time will tell whether that is the best focus for the iconic coffee shop company.