Consumer Confidential: Starbucks' long march, the post office's decline, gamers go wild
Here's your go-with-the-flow Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:
--Let them drink lattes. Starbucks says it will more than double the rate at which it opens new stores to an average of more than one a day as the global economy recovers. The coffee king plans to open 500 stores in the fiscal year that began in October, with 400 outside the U.S. Apparently our friends in China represent the greatest growth potential for the espresso set. According to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, China will be the company's biggest growth market within two years. The company expects to have more than 1,000 outlets there in the "near future."
--Times remain tough for the U.S. Postal Service. The agency says its losses more than doubled in fiscal year 2010, despite cutting billions of dollars in expenses and sharply cutting its staff. The Postal Service says its net loss totaled $8.5 billion in the year that ended Sept. 30. That compares with a loss of $3.8 billion the prior year. The agency blamed the deeper losses on the recession and on the continuing growth of e-mail. An end to Saturday delivery is virtually certain at this point. Beyond that, it's unclear how the Postal Service will chart a path to stability.
--Maybe the post office should get into the video game business. The new Activision Blizzard game Call of Duty: Black Ops has set a record for first-day sales, generating a hefty $360 million in sales in the U.S. and Britain. That's nearly 6 million copies of the game snatched up by enthusiasts within the first 24 hours. That breaks for the former record, held by another Call of Duty title -- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Video games raked in nearly $5 billion during the first nine months of the year. Man, am I in the wrong line of work.
-- David Lazarus