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Starbucks’ 2023 Holiday Menu & Red Cup Day Performance

by 
Shira Petrack
 on 
November 28, 2023
Starbucks’ 2023 Holiday Menu & Red Cup Day Performance

Starbucks launched its Holiday Menu on November 2nd and held its annual Red Cup Day on November 16th. How did these events impact foot traffic? We dove into the data to find out. 

Starbucks Owns the Calendar Again 

Starbucks is a master at creating new seasonal traditions that consistently drive visit spikes to its stores during what would otherwise be quiet periods. Once summer traffic slows down, Starbucks releases its Pumpkin Spice Latte and fall menu, driving a surge of visits to the chain. And just as the PSL wave subsides, the company rolls out its Holiday Menu, bringing a fresh influx of visits. 

This year was no exception. Both events – the release of the Pumpkin Spice Latte and fall menu on August 24th, and the launch of the Holiday Menu on November 2nd – drove major visit spikes to Starbucks venues nationwide.

But even a promotional calendar master such as Starbucks’ sometimes sees softer results from its special events. During the company’s annual Red Cup Day – held around two weeks after the launch of Holiday Menu – the chain offers a complimentary reusable hot cup to customers purchasing a beverage off the Holiday Menu. Yet this year’s Red Cup Day, held on November 16th, did not drive a significant spike in overall weekly visits. 

Softer Results from Red Cup Day 2023

Indeed, comparing Red Cup Day’s foot traffic performance in 2023 with that of previous years highlights the relatively subdued impact of this year’s one-day event. In 2020, 2021, and 2022, daily visits during Red Cup Day jumped by 74.4%, 65.0%, and 81.0%, respectively, compared to the daily visit average during the five weeks preceding Red Cup Day each year. But in 2023, the Red Cup Day visit bump relative to the previous five week daily average stood at 31.7% – still a noteworthy increase, but not as impressive a jump as in previous years.

Strong 2022 Holiday Menu Performance Makes for A Muted Comparison

The subdued Red Cup Day 2023 performance relative to years past is also reflected in the year-over-year (YoY) visit numbers. Visits between November 13th and 19th – the week of Red Cup Day – were 16.1% lower when compared to the equivalent week in 2022. And visits during the previous week – the first full week following the release of the Holiday Menu – were down 3.4% YoY, indicating the demand for the special holiday beverages may have been slightly lower this year.

Yet the softer YoY comparison may be more indicative of last year’s Holiday Menu success rather than a weakened demand this year. And Starbucks’ strong YoY performance during the weeks preceding the Holiday Menu Launch means that the dip in YoY visits during the first two full weeks of November are likely not reflective of the company’s upcoming holiday season performance. 

Persistent Demand for Starbucks’ Seasonal Treats

Although Red Cup Day may not have driven as big a spike to Starbucks as the day did in years past, the annual giveaway day still led to a notable visit increase – and the jump in foot traffic following the Holiday Menu release shows that demand for the seasonal drinks is still strong. 

Will Black Friday and holiday deals bring Starbucks’ YoY traffic up again? How will the company perform over the upcoming shopping season? 

Visit placer.ai/blog to find out. 

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