Amazon.com (AMZN) spent its first day as the owner of a brick-and-mortar grocery chain cutting at least some of the prices at Whole Foods Market.
At the Whole Foods on 57th Street in Manhattan, organic Fuji apples were marked down to $1.99 a pound from $3.49 a pound; organic avocados went to $1.99 each from $2.79; organic rotisserie chicken fell to $9.99 each from $13.99 and the price of some bananas was slashed to 49 cents per pound from 79 cents. Organic baby kale? Cut from $3.99 to $3.49, down 13%.
The items marked down had orange signs reading “Whole Foods + Amazon.” The signs listed the old price, the new price and “More to come…”.
Lori McNichol, a resident of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, said she was doing her regular grocery shopping Monday morning and wasn’t lured by lower prices. Still, she has high hopes for the supermarket’s new owner.
“I thought I could probably get things delivered, which would be exciting,” she said.
Amazon acquired the upscale supermarket chain for $13.7 billion, sending competitors such as Kroger (KR), Costco Wholesale (COST), Sprouts Farmers Market (SFM) and Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) reeling. Whole Foods earned a reputation for high prices, getting the nickname Whole Paycheck.
The cuts add another front to a price war that’s already raging across the supermarket sector. Retailers from Wal-Mart to European-based discounters look to grab shoppers’ attention. The battle has shaved profit margins and prompted companies to look at new selling strategies, like Wal-Mart’s decision last week to sell its goods on Google’s online marketplace.
Shares of Sprouts tanked by 9.7% to 19.72. Kroger was down 0.1% to close at 21.72. Costco ticked up fractionally to 152.55 while Wal-Mart was off 0.8% to 78.03. Amazon was up 0.1% to 946.02.
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