Starbucks and McDonald's Are Shortening Store Hours Amid Staffing Shortages and Omicron Spikes

Don't be surprised if your favorite place for a quick bite isn't open as late as usual.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock — which, to be honest, not the worst idea these days — you're aware of staff shortages across the country. "The Great Resignation" and other pandemic factors have already reduced the workforce, and now, thanks to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant, employees calling out sick is putting even more pressure on some companies.

Among the companies currently struggling to maintain their normal hours are two of the biggest names in quick-service, Starbucks and McDonald's, both of which have recently admitted to the possibility of reduced hours due the impact of the pandemic.

A person wearing a mask walks past a closed Starbucks location amid the COVID-19 pandemic
Noam Galai / Getty Images

On Friday, Starbucks sent an email to customers warning of the potential for reduced hours and other inconveniences. "With the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, we've all been forced to adapt again," the message, provided to us by a Starbucks spokesperson, stated. "Your Starbucks Experience may look different as we navigate this dynamic situation in each of our communities. You may notice some stores will have shortened hours, that some products may be unavailable, or that mobile order and pay is temporarily turned off at your store."

Later, the message says that Starbucks is "working quickly to resolve all customer disruptions and you have our commitment to make the situation right." Then, as an olive branch to customers, the chain says they "are postponing Starbucks Rewards members' Star expirations through April 1."

McDonald's is facing similar issues. The same day, The Wall Street Journal published a feature on Chris Kempczinski in which the McDonald's CEO said that, on average, the company's U.S. locations are now open 10 percent fewer hours than before the pandemic. Worth noting is that 95 percent of McDonald's U.S. locations are franchisee-run, leaving most staffing issues in the hands of individual owners. Still, as Nation's Restaurant News points out, Kempczinski warned about this scenario during an investor's call in October, saying that the pandemic "is putting some pressure on things like operating hours, where we might be dialing back late night for example from what we would ordinarily be doing."

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