At Your Fave Starbucks, the Holiday Season Just Got a Little Grinchier

Those local Starbucks targeted for shuttering over the summer are still open -- dunno for how long, though, as the Seattle-based coffeeteria stages the closings in waves. ("Could be any time," says one Lower Greenville barista.) And, more bad news, as it looks like Starbucks won't rake in the big bucks this holiday season -- something to do with "weakness," to which we can relate.

So, as you wait in line for a cup of Christmas Blend at your neighborhood Starbucks, you'll likely find yourself, "Gosh dang, this line is a lot longer than normal." Because the chain's cutting back on staffing -- not exactly a round of layoffs, more like a round of dude-just-stay-at-homes. Which means local baristas hoping to make some extra coin this holiday extra-shift season are out of luck. And you'll have to wait a little longer than usual. Why come? An explanation after the jump.

See, the way each store determines how many people it schedules for each shift is determined by a program that is tied to the cash registers, which keeps track of the number of customers that are rung up throughout the day. So, let's say only 30 people buy something during a single half hour. The system recommends that that particular location post two baristas on the floor. Make it 50 transactions, and they earn another employee -- you get the idea.

The store managers are expected to base their schedules around the forecasted customer flow from past weeks and keep their "variance" to the "ideal" coverage to about zero percent. And that's how thing have worked for years. But, like Barack Obama says, that's gonna change.

Since raising their prices last year didn't help revive the company's profits and with the economy still in the dumper, desperate times call for longer lines as the company made its announcement to store managers yesterday. Over the coming weeks, the scheduled coverage is being slashed, as managers are expected to start keeping that variance to -3 percent. Translation: Understaffing!

This morning, one local manager called the move "Bullshit!" And there has already been a bit of weeping and gnashing of teeth among the baristas -- something to do with long lines and small tips. But don't take Unfair Park's word for it. Just get in line. But do leave a nice tip. It is. after all, the holidays. --Robert Wilonsky

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