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In its drive to cutback store growth and close locations, it seems that Starbucks has ticked off a few landlords. The coffee giant is facing a number of lawsuits from property owners as it cuts back its empire, according to this Wall Street Journal report.”Some landlords contend Starbucks is paying rent late or darkening stores before specifying the closure dates to make the landlords wary of a fight and to pressure them into letting the company out of leases for a price they deem too low.”The chain denies the charges. “We’re not doing anything out of the norm of any other company that would seek to restructure its real-estate portfolio,” says a spokesman.We bet there are a lot of people out there who are bitter. Is a shopping center owner in today’s economy going to find a replacement for those stores that can pay as much rent and draw as much traffic?Speaking of traffic, a report done by Morgan Stanley found out why Starbucks has seen a dip in its customers. It turns out it was price, Nation’s Restaurant News reports.The research finds: “Of the Starbucks customers who are decreasing their visits, 84 percent blamed economic pressures. When asked what would increase their visits to Starbucks, 65 percent cited lower prices.”

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