NEW YORK – Few companies were clobbered harder than Starbucks in the recession. The coffee chain with outposts on every corner came to represent all that was wrong with American businesses and shoppers: unchecked expansion, self-indulgence and mindless credit-card swiping.
But now customers who swore off frivolous spending during the recession are lining up again for their $4 caffeine fix. The company's net income nearly doubled and revenue rose 17 percent in the latest quarter versus a year earlier, as more Americans allowed themselves a small treat.
After seeing their retirement funds and home equity shrink severely, consumers tightened their belts in a shift some economists dubbed the New Frugality. Fortunately for the world's largest latte purveyor and other peddlers of small luxuries, Americans have a short memory when it comes to the economy.