Maybe it’s the slightly lower prices, or the curiosity of seeing Amazon Echo speakers being sold in the produce aisle, whatever the reason, it looks like Whole Foods is seeing a boost in foot traffic in the weeks since it officially became part of the Amazon family.
This is according to the Wall Street Journal, which cites anecdotal claims from Whole Foods managers, along with industry analysts who say that visits to the supermarket chain’s stores are up compared to the stores’ pre-merger traffic and the traffic at comparable times for the previous three years.
While Whole Foods might be seeing a bump in shoppers, it remains to be seen if these visitors are buying more or if the increase in foot traffic is just a result of people popping in because Whole Foods is in the news again.
After all, while our colleagues at Consumer Reports found that some items at the upscale chain have been discounted by as much as 43%, Whole Foods’ prices are still high when compared to the most popular supermarket chains.
Some stores are actually using Whole Foods’ discounted prices to highlight this disparity. For example, Whole Foods notably slashed prices on bananas from $.79/lb to $.49/lb after the Amazon takeover. But the Journal points out that some Trader Joe’s stores are countering that supposed price cut with signs that read ““Our bananas have been priced at 19 cents for 17 years.”
As we’ve noted before, Amazon didn’t purchase Whole Foods just so it could run a few hundred high-end retail grocery stores. The addition of the Whole Foods operation is expected to be a big boost to Amazon’s Pantry and Fresh online services. Grocery delivery services only currently account for around 2% of annual retail food sales in the U.S., but it’s growing, up 21% last year alone. That’s why traditional supermarket chains are now beginning to take online ordering and delivery more seriously; they don’t want to end up like all of the bricks-and-mortar retailers who signed their own death notices by ignoring competition from Amazon and other e-tailers.