Starbucks Announces Plans to Re-Open Stores, Raise Employee Pay Till End of May

Starbucks announced more changes to its policies during the coronavirus pandemic, including a raise for employees through the end of May. The international coffee chain said they plan to keep locations with drive-thrus operational and will look into re-opening some stores just for to-go ordering. The "new phase" of operations will be based on the company's experience in China.

In an open letter to employees on Thursday, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said the company is "transitioning to a new phase that can best be described as 'monitor and adapt.'" This includes some stores possibly re-opening just for customers to pick up orders made through the Starbucks app or website. "As we experienced in China, this will be a journey and we are thoughtfully preparing for this next phase as we adapt in the U.S.," Johnson wrote.

Starbucks said it could see consumer behavior change as people and businesses adapt to the coronavirus situation. The company "developed a data-rich dashboard to provide comprehensive information, including government data on confirmed cases and trends about COVID-19 and how that may influence decisions at the individual store level." Stores have already begun experimenting with different ways for customers to pick up their orders, like pick-up at the front doors, curbside delivery and even at-home delivery, for locations without drive-thrus.

"We are finding new, innovative ways to serve our communities safely while working hard to exceed public health requirements and adjust to new customer expectations," Johnson wrote."Thanks to our digital leadership, we are positioned to evolve the Starbucks experience for millions of our loyal customers."

Decisions on where the brand goes next will be based on three principles, Johnson wrote: "Prioritizing the health and well-being of our partners and customers; Playing a constructive role in supporting health and government officials as they work to mitigate the spread of this virus; and Showing up in a positive and responsible way to serve our communities."

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In another letter, Rossann Williams, EVP and president of U.S. company-operated business and Canada, said by May 4, Starbucks will "re-open as many stores as we can with modified operations and best in class safety measures, and intend for any partner who is healthy and well to come back to work." Employees will continue receiving a $3 per hour bump in pay through May 31, and Catastrophe Pay will continue to be available to employees who have tested positive to COVID-19 or have been exposed to it so they can self-quarantine.

"We will also continue to have Catastrophe Pay available for partners whose stores have to close, or stay closed, during May," Williams wrote. "And in order to ensure partners are paid for their average baseline hours, we will make Catastrophe Pay available to help close the gap between hours worked on Service Pay and average baseline hours through May 31."