Friday, April 23, 2010

So as Starbucks goes goes the economy?

Is Starbuck's success an indicator for the economy? Bloomberg had an interesting article today suggesting just that (See Starbuck's Results Prove Recession's Over). From the piece by Dan Mitchell:
Traffic in Starbucks (SBUX) stores increased by 3 percent. And the average bill grew by 4 percent. More people are going to Starbucks, and, once there, they're spending more. This marks the first time that traffic has grown in more than three years—since before the recession began. The company's operating margins were the highest in its history, growing to 13.4 percent. Of course, that's thanks largely to massive store closings and layoffs during the recession. But it can't happen without top-line growth.

While I'm not convinced that coffee sales at Starbuck's necessarily indicate market recovery, there might be an aspect to higher sales of comfort items that does indicate healthier markets. After all, when the economy is bad, the $3-5 cup of coffee might be the first thing to go for tight-budgeting consumers. More of a luxury or discretionary item that returns when finances are better. The return of consumer spending on discretionary items seems like a good thing. No hard science here, but the idea makes sense.


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