The Problem Some Fans Are Having With Starbucks' Halloween Cups

Last month, Starbucks began rolling out its long-awaited 2021 Halloween Collection. Every fall, the coffee chain releases limited edition seasonal merchandise featuring special Halloween designs, which this year include a glow-in-the-dark spiderweb cold cup and mugs with a spooky black cat motif. Although these items are immensely popular, Starbucks fans have one big problem with these limited edition collections. While the demand for the items is already high, some scalpers have taken to buying out all the available stock in stores, only to resell them online at an insanely high mark-up, sometimes charging as much as $200 to $300 for a single cup.

The merchandise stockpiling madness has infuriated many Starbucks shoppers, who simply want to purchase a cute seasonal cup, which normally retail for about $20 to $40 (via Starbucks). One fan was so irritated by their experience trying to find a Halloween mug to add to their collection that they took to social media to vent their frustration. "I'm from the Bay Area and every store here is wiped out and has been for the past week ... I found one for a decent price online ... and made the person an offer. A couple minutes later they reject my offer and double the price," the user posted to Reddit, adding "It's impossible to get any cups for these launches unless you pay 2-4x the price."

Scalpers drive up the price of Starbucks' Halloween merchandise

Many Reddit users commiserated with the original poster, saying they had experienced similar frustrations with resellers. Some wondered why the chain doesn't simply produce more seasonal cups, since the demand for them seems to be consistently high every year. "I think that's honestly because they do it purposefully. Psychologically the more 'limited edition' and hard to get something is, the more desirable it becomes. If they actually supplied enough cups, I think there would actually be a moderate decrease in interest," speculated u/indiemads.

Some responders suggested asking the Starbucks employees when they might have more in stock. "Starbucks will typically replenish the supply to some stores, but stores won't know what they're getting. Typically the larger stores with more merchandise will get more. I'd recommend making friends with the staff," advised u/SF-guy83. Others offered ideas for other locations they could check that might still have cups in stock, such as university Starbucks, which tend not to sell out of merchandise as quickly, or rest stops that have Starbucks attached, where people might not think to shop for cups. 

While some locations certainly have a higher demand for merchandise than others, there is definitely a big problem with scalpers artificially inflating the price. It seems unlikely that the problem will be resolved unless Starbucks is able to stock all of its locations with enough merchandise to meet the high demand.