The Starbucks Indicator

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It has been my habit for many years to ask “How’s business?” when patronizing any retail establishment. It’s not like I’m looking for trade secrets, it’s that I have found it both informative and comforting to query the help on how they think things are going. I have come to view this anecdotal evidence as largely on target with the general state of the economy.

In Texoma, the prime monitor of the economy is what I refer to as “The Starbuck Indicator.” This is my theory.

Starbucks is a luxury item. It is also a self-medicating energy booster. When the economy is good Starbucks is selling a lot of venti double espresso, skim milk macchiatos. Put pressure on the economy and the orders merely drop in size/price to a grande. But go through a year like 2008 and 2009 and we’re no just talking about reducing the order to a $2 “coffee of the day,” but there will be absolutely no scones in the sack.

Six months ago a Starbucks barista told me sales were down. “Even the 2 and 3 cup-a-day drinkers are coming in just once a day now,” he said. More recently, last week in fact, that same barista said things were picking up.

If we have money for a $4 cup of coffee and a $3 scone, things must be getting better, according to The Starbucks Indicator.

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