Starbucks sticks to the classics for its holiday menu after misstep two years ago

Key Points
  • Starbucks' holiday menu will return on Thursday.
  • The coffee chain's holiday offerings can make or break its fiscal first-quarter sales.
  • After a misstep two years ago, Starbucks is sticking to the same food and drink menu as last year.
Starbucks' holiday drinks
Source: Starbucks

For the holidays this year, Starbucks is sticking to proven customer favorites.

The coffee chain's holiday offerings can make or break its fiscal first-quarter sales. Two years ago, disappointing holiday offers and merchandise dragged down U.S. same-store sales by 1%. Combined with sluggish growth of its core beverages, U.S. same-store sales grew by 2% that quarter.

Last holiday season, the company fared much better, with U.S. same-store sales growing by 4% during the fiscal first quarter.

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Starting Thursday, customers can order favorites like the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha, the Eggnog Latte and the Peppermint Mocha, which is returning for its 17th year. To spread holiday cheer — and awareness about the return of the holiday menu — all barista aprons and menu boards will be red.

The only change to the holiday menu this year is the disappearance of the gingerbread latte, a longtime staple.

Customers missing the gingerbread latte might want to try rival Dunkin', which started selling a Toasted Gingerbread Signature Latte this year, one of its four new lattes. The company started selling its holiday menu Wednesday, getting an early start on Starbucks. Its other new drinks are a Holiday Eggnog Signature Latte, the Merry Mocha Mint Signature Latte and the Frosted White Chocolate Signature Latte.

Starbucks' reusable holiday cups are also coming back. For a limited time during the holiday season, customers who use the cup will get 50 cents off their holiday drink order after 2 p.m. The coffee chain introduced the reusable holiday cups last year, but customers were disappointed after cafes quickly ran out of them.

"This year, we have made great strides to create inventory in all of our stores, so actually merchandise is in stores now, and we feel confident about securing a large supply of red cups," Starbucks' Chief Operating Officer Roz Brewer said in an interview Monday.

Starbucks shares, which have a market value of $97 billion, are up nearly 27% since the start of the year, while Dunkin' Donuts shares have risen 17% year to date. Dunkin' has a market value of $6.2 billion.

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