Starbucks Closes Over 2,000 Locations in China Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
The coronavirus outbreak may have no connection to Corona beer (confused, or perhaps just easily amused, Google users have caused a spike in searches for “Corona beer virus”), but the deadly illness is having an effect on coffee: Starbucks has announced it’s closed over half its Chinese locations due to the virus.
Starbucks has 4,100 locations in China—the coffee chain’s second largest market—so closing half those stores wasn’t undertaken lightly. In fact, the impact could potentially be so significant that Starbucks decided to postpone making any adjustments to the company’s financial outlook for the rest of the year until next quarter, despite a stronger than expected start to 2020.
“Due to the dynamic situation unfolding with the coronavirus, we are not providing guidance at this time,” President and CEO Kevin Johnson said in yesterday’s earnings call. “Our immediate focus is on two key priorities in China. First, caring for the health and well-being of our partners and customers in our stores. Second, playing a constructive role in supporting local health officials and government leaders as they work to contain the coronavirus. That said, we remain optimistic and committed to the long-term growth potential in China, a market we have been in for more than 20 years.”
Starbucks isn’t the only American chain to close restaurants in China. According to Business Insider, other fast food brands taking precautions are KFC, which has closed select locations in Wuhan since January 24; Pizza Hut closed locations on the same date “until further notice”; McDonald’s announced on Friday that it had “suspended business” in five Chinese cities; and Dairy Queen, which closed its Wuhan locations back on January 22. Also, if you consider IKEA a restaurant, the furniture store with cheap meatballs closed its Wuhan location on January 23.