Fact Check: Starbucks Is NOT Leaving Morocco Or San Francisco Because Of Pro-Palestine Protests

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: Starbucks Is NOT Leaving Morocco Or San Francisco Because Of Pro-Palestine Protests Pre-War

Is Starbucks leaving Morocco and San Francisco due to boycotts over the Hamas-Israel crisis and pro-Palestinian protests? No, that's not true: Starbucks announced the closure of seven stores in San Francisco on October 2, 2023, five days before the Hamas-Israel war began, the company spokesperson confirmed to Lead Stories. Starbucks also confirmed that the company continues to operate stores in Morocco, as of December 8, 2023.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) on Instagram on December 3, 2023 under the title "KEEP BOYCOTTING 🇵🇸." It opened with a person saying:

For those of you who say boycotting doesn't work, Starbucks in Morocco is literally leaving the country explicitly for the reasons of the lack of revenue they've had because of the pro Palestine protest in all of Morocco.

This is what the post looked like on Instagram at the time of the writing of this fact check:

Screen Shot 2023-12-08 at 11.23.37 AM.png(Source: Instagram.com screenshot taken on Fri Dec 8 17:28:04 2023 UTC)


Starbucks is not leaving Morocco, Jaci Anderson (archived here), the director of corporate communications for Starbucks Coffee Company, told Lead Stories via email on December 8, 2023:

This is inaccurate, Starbucks continues to operate stores in Morocco.

The video cites an article with the headline, "Starbucks and H&M close in Morocco over Gaza boycott: report," which is from The New Arab website (archived here). The "report" in the article is from a post on the French-language, Moroccan website Maroc-Hebdo (archived here), which made the claim without any evidence or proof of the closures. This is how The New Arab translated the information:

According to reliable information, two major global brands, notably the Swedish ready-to-wear brand, H&M and the prestigious American coffee chain, Starbucks, will leave Morocco from December 15.

As of December 8, 2023, The New Arab story was updated with a new headline that reads: "Starbucks and H&M close in Morocco over Gaza boycott, owners deny departure citing 'reorganization.'" The story has an update that Al-Shaya Group (archived here), which owns the Starbucks franchises in Morocco, has denied they are leaving Morocco.

The Al-Shaya Group spokesperson confirmed to Lead Stories via email on December 10, 2023 that the claim was false:

We continue to operate all our Starbucks stores in Morocco.

San Francisco

The person in the video claims that stores in San Francisco were closing as well, citing a boycott as the reason for their shuttering:

And in San Francisco they announced that they would be closing seven stores. Seven of them. Don't tell me boycotting doesn't work.

She shows an article in the video from USA TODAY (archived here) with the headline, "Starbucks announces seven store closures in San Francisco. Critics question why." The article is dated October 6, 2023, before the Hamas-Israel war began on October 7, 2023.

The news of the closures was reported by the San Francisco Business Times (archived here) on October 3, 2023, with the headline, "Starbucks is shuttering 7 downtown S.F. stores while reviving others." The USA Today article shown in the video posted on Instagram cited this Business Times article as the source in their story.

On October 2, 2023, five days before the Hamas attack on Israel, Starbucks Regional Vice President Jessica Borton sent an email to her district managers and announced the store closures. The company shared the email with Lead Stories on December 8, 2023. Borton's messsag read, in part:

Determining how and where we invest is done through a standard process of evaluating our store portfolio annually to determine where we can best meet our community and customers' needs. This includes opening new locations, identifying stores in need of investment or renovation, and exploring locations where an alternative format is needed. It also includes making hard decisions about where our stores are located. This year those discussions have resulted in making the very difficult decision to close seven of the stores in our area.

Anderson told Lead Stories the company's standard course of business includes "opening new locations, identifying stores in need of investment or renovation, exploring locations where an alternative format is needed and, in some instances, re-evaluating where our stores are located."

National news outlets, including CNN (archived here), also reported on the seven Starbucks store closures on October 2, 2023, before the October 7, 2023, war began.

Other Lead Stories fact checks of claims about the 2023 Hamas-Israel war can be found here.


  • 2023-12-12T20:08:11Z 2023-12-12T20:08:11Z
    Adds quote from Al-Shaya Group.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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