CNBC reports that investment analysts are predicting that Starbucks’ ubiquity - its cafes “are facing mounting competition from other Starbucks locations” - has “grown to such an extreme point that they are hurting each other's sales.”

A report from BMO Capital Markets says that “the pace of U.S. development should be slowed,” largely because “the annual increase in store overlap across Starbucks' U.S. footprint has accelerated by more than three times over the last few years.”

The analysis says that “seventy-five percent of Starbucks locations in California (Starbucks' largest U.S. market representing approximately 20 percent of its U.S. footprint) now have a store within a one-mile radius … There are now 3.6 Starbucks locations within a one-mile radius of the typical Starbucks in the U.S. relative to 3.3 and 3.2 stores in 2014 and 2012 respectively.”

The report also says that beverage innovation also may have reached its limits: “Specialty beverage growth may be nearing saturation among existing customers as the percentage of Starbucks U.S. orders that include specialty beverages declined from year-ago levels. Beverage innovations may drive greater switching across products among existing customers, rather than incremental sales.”

KC's View: If I remember accurately, back in 2008 when Starbucks was going through problems because the recession contributed to a growing unwillingness to spend $4 on lattes, the company’s growth strategy also was seen as a problem … and the decision was made to scale back. I’ve had folks suggest to me that this was just temporary, and that Starbucks was way denser than before.

The question is, what happens if there is another recession?