Starbucks cancels its happy-hour deal following worker worries and crowding concerns amid COVID surge
Starbucksis cancelling its happy-hour deal until at least January. The buy one, get one free deal is typically held on a select Thursday each month.
- The coffee giant is pausing the deal over crowding concerns, especially as COVID cases surge.
- Workers have been complaining about the happy-hour deal for weeks, with one telling Business Insider "a lot of us are going crazy over it, no matter what store you're from."
- "We will always prioritize your safety and in this moment, we all have a role and responsibility — as Starbucks partners — to protect each other, our customers and our business as we navigate this pandemic," Rossann Williams, the head of Starbucks' stores in US and Canada, wrote in a letter to workers.
Starbucks is cancelling its happy-hour deal until 2021.
The coffee giant confirmed to Business Insider that it had decided to pause its Thursday happy-hour deal through December and on January 7. Reuters first reported the
"Partner care and safety remains the top priority," the memo reads, according to Reuters. "However, with the anticipated rise in cases as a result of holiday travel and the latest guidance from the scientific community to not gather indoors in large groups for a prolonged period of time, we feel it is best to pause Happy Hours."
Starbucks workers have been complaining about the happy-hour crowds for weeks. The buy one, get one free deal is typically held on a select Thursday each month, with customers getting alerts via the Starbucks app when the deal is being offered.
"A lot of us are going crazy over it, no matter what store you're from," Jay Josef, who has worked at Starbucks for nine years, told Business Insider in November.
Josef added: "The drinks just pile on."
Chains are being forced to make some massive changes to business during the pandemic
Starbucks' decision to put happy hour on hold highlights an uneasy tension between deals and safety that many chains are grappling with during the pandemic. In April, for example, Taco Bell faced backlash for holding a free-taco deal as
A Taco Bell employee who spoke with Business Insider at the time called the deal "probably the most painful and absurd thing they could've done during this time."
"My franchise is failing to pay us any more than we're already making; however, they're finding ways to increase sales volume," the Taco Bell employee said.
A Starbucks representative told Business Insider that the chain was moving to other promotions, such as Double Star Days. The representative said Starbucks would continue to monitor the situation and reassess plans accordingly.
"We will always prioritize your safety and in this moment, we all have a role and responsibility - as Starbucks partners - to protect each other, our customers and our business as we navigate this pandemic," Rossann Williams, the head of Starbucks' stores in US and Canada, wrote in a December 1 letter to employees.
Starbucks has been doubling down on investments in workers and new initiatives outside of its traditional sit-down café business during the pandemic.
Last week, following the company's investor day, CEO Kevin Johnson announced that the company planned to have all workers make at least $15 an hour within the next two to three years.
At investor day, executives said that 80% of the company's new stores feature a drive-thru. Within the next three years, 40% of all US locations will have drive-thrus. And, in a non-happy-hour deal, Starbucks launched a surprise drive-thru-only air-freshener giveaway, available as supplies last.
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