Starbucks & the Pumpkin Spice Latte: Using Location Data to Measure Foot Traffic

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Starbucks will release the pumpkin spice latte on August 27, its earliest launch ever of the seasonal specialty drink. In 2018, Starbucks re-introduced its popular fall drink to restaurant menus on August 28.

What would mobile location data tell us about Starbucks foot traffic before and after pumpkin spice hits the menu? We analyzed location data from consumer mobile devices observed at standalone Starbucks locations between July 15 and October 13, 2018 to see what happened last year—and make a few predictions for 2019.

Starbucks Foot Traffic By Day: July 15 – October 13, 2018

Starbucks locations did not see an increase in consumer visits following the re-introduction of the pumpkin spice latte in 2018. In fact, average daily foot traffic decreased by 2%.

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Starbucks Foot Traffic By Day of Week: July 15 – October 13, 2018

Slight differences were observed in foot traffic by day: average daily foot traffic was slightly higher on Mondays following the release of the pumpkin spice latte in 2018. However, this may be more an effect of kids going back to school–and adults going back to work–at the close of summer.

Pumpkin Spice Everywhere?

In 2019, Pumpkin Spice is a fun fall tradition that keeps Starbucks customers coming in the door  – but the famed drink doesn’t appear to bring in more foot traffic, or to increase visits per person. What does this mean for restaurants and brands, like Dunkin’ or Spam, who’ve recently decided to introduce their own versions of pumpkin spice? Once the novelty wears off, we predict little lasting impact to restaurant foot traffic and overall sales.

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