Sign O' The Times: Starbucks Drinker-ship Down, Lottery Ticket Sales Up

You know things are tight when the good people start to forgo their daily caffeine fix, but it appears not even Starbucks has been spared from the drop in consumer spending. With profits down 28 percent, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced the company has cut the number of U.S. branches it plans to open this year from 1,175 to 1,020 and will open fewer than 400 from 2009 through 2011, The New York Times reports today.

“This is a very tough operating environment for us, and we’re not alone,” Mr. Schultz told The Times. “Like most other retailers and restaurants, we are experiencing a downturn in customer traffic, demonstrated in reduced frequency of customer visits, that we believe ties to a real reduction in consumers’ discretionary spending habits.”

In an ominous sign for the economy (though less so for Starbucks), it’s not even like once-loyal Starbucks patrons are buying coffee from competitors. They are just not buying as many sugary, expresso drinks period.

But increasing customer austerity has not dampened the demand for lottery tickets, The New York Post reports today. New York State lottery revenues are up nearly 10 percent from a year ago—$7.5 billion for the fiscal year that ended March 31, records show.