Pumpkin spice made its return on Tuesday, Aug. 25, and Placer.ai’s foot traffic analysis for the respective weekend showed that consumers were visiting Starbucks locations more often than they have been in the last six months of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Friday, Aug. 28, Starbucks had visits below 19.5% of its 2019 level and Saturday, Aug. 29 was below by 7.7% and Sunday, Aug. 30 was below by 6.2%, according to data from Place.ai’s year-over-year first weekend visit report for the pumpkin spice latte launch.
For comparison’s sake, Placer.ai said Starbucks’ “peak” foot traffic at the start of recovery was within 20.1% of what it saw in 2019, which reportedly took place the week beginning Aug. 17. The difference in foot traffic between the two periods has led Placer.ai to suggest that pumpkin spice is a large driver for increased store visits.
FOX Business reached out to the coffee giant to confirm the accuracy of Placer.ai’s foot traffic report, but a Starbucks spokesperson declined to comment because the company does not share specifics related to sales or store traffic. Moreover, reports from third-party sources could not be confirmed by Starbucks.
However, the company has notably introduced its seasonal pumpkin spice beverage lineup earlier than the actual beginning of autumn, which typically starts near the end of September.
Last year, Starbucks launched its Pumpkin Spice Latte on Aug. 27, 2019. And the year before that, the launch date was Aug. 28, 2018. The last time pumpkin spice was added to menus in September was in 2017, which had a launch date of Sept. 5.
Placer.ai has alleged that earlier launches help Starbucks “control the calendar” and make additional sales due to the popularity of its limited-time drinks.
Before the early pumpkin spice launch, the coffee chain’s net revenue sales for its Americas segment was $2.8 billion in the third quarter of 2020, according to its most recent earnings results. There was a41% decrease during the third quarter in comparable store sales, in addition to lower product sales and royalty revenues from licensees.