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Starbucks Closing 150 Stores

Starbucks announced they will be closing 150 stores according to a recent Bloomberg report. The closings will occur in densely penetrated U.S. markets and are expected to take place next fiscal year.

Although business abroad has been booming and the chain has been opening more and more cafes, U.S. sales growth has stalled for the company that brought espresso to the masses. With about 14,000 stores domestically, Starbucks is now pumping the brakes on licensed and company-operated locations, with a renewed focus on rural and suburban areas—not over-caffeinated urban neighborhoods where locals already joke that the next Starbucks will open inside an existing store.

The closing stores are often in “major metro areas where increases in wage and occupancy and other regulatory requirements” are making them unprofitable, Johnson said. “Now, in a lot of ways, it’s middle America and the South that presents an opportunity.”

For the ubiquitous chain, moving slower and shutting unprofitable stores may trigger some deja vu. In 2008, longtime leader Howard Schultz returned to the company that was struggling after expanding too quickly across the U.S., giving competitors like McDonald’s Corp. a chance to elbow back into breakfast. Investors cheered as Schultz retook the helm and closed some underperforming stores, and share prices at the chain have been up eight of the last 10 years. So far this year through Tuesday’s close, shares have been essentially flat.