Starbucks $450 holiday gift cards sell out in a flash

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Despite a $450 price tag, a limited-edition line of rose gold-colored metal Starbucks gift cards sold out Friday in less time than it takes to order a latte.

The offering marked the second year the coffee chain has partnered with high-end daily deal site Gilt.com to sell the cards. With only 1,000 cards available, the deal was the more exclusive of the two.

“It took just seconds this year to sell out, which was phenomenal,” said Alexis Maybank, Gilt Groupe co-founder and chief business development and strategy officer.

“We call them shopping athletes for a reason,” she said. “Our customers are savvy and fast, and they were refreshing the page constantly. … The second it opened up, they bought it,”

When the sale went live at noon, Maybank said, Gilt.com’s hits per minute beat those on Cyber Monday by nearly 2.5 times. Within 30 minutes, more than 11,000 people had tried to get on a wait-list for the card.

About 500 cards were available to general Gilt.com members.

About 400 had been made available a bit earlier to people who had achieved gold status in Starbucks’ loyalty program; about 100 were sold accidentally when a link prematurely went live on Gilt on Thursday, according to Linda Mills, Starbucks’ director of retail brand public relations.

Some would-be buyers took to Twitter to express their frustration at not being able to score a card.

This holiday season, Starbucks will be looking to repeat last year’s performance, which CEO Howard Schultz called “stunning and almost unbelievable” on its fiscal first-quarter earnings call.

Each card comes with $400 preloaded and gold status in Starbucks’ loyalty program. The card is slightly unusual in that it sells for more than the merchandise value.

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