In an ambitious attempt to erase the "Whole Paycheck" stigma of it's high priced offerings, Whole Foods launched its spinoff store, 365 By Whole Foods Market in 2016.
The lower-price concept store married core private label items (365 brand) with top category brand-name bestsellers, grab-and-go items, and prepared foods.
The first store opened in the trendy Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles and another 11 followed in cities including Chicago, Seattle, and Brooklyn. But in an announcement yesterday, the chain now says it will convert those stores into regular Whole Foods Markets.
The decision comes after it announced last month that it would halt opening new 365 stores.
“It’s logical just to convert these few stores into Whole Foods, keep locations that have already got the leases on them,” Phil Lempert, a grocery industry analyst at Supermarket Guru, told Yahoo Finance. “I think that it's smart to just have a singular focus."
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The move comes after the acquisition by Amazon in 2017, which has led to a number of price decreases across the stores. Amazon Prime members also receive additional discounts in-store and cash back on card purchases.
Yahoo Finance reports the 365 stores will experience store signage changes, new product assortments, and changes in distribution.
Despite the futuristic layouts and highly curated selection of products aimed at Millennial and Gen-Z shoppers, some of the 365 stores were underperforming. The chain closed a 365 store in Seattle in 2017 only a year after it opened.
“Amazon is focused on making Whole Foods for the general population not just an upscale more healthy minded population. They’re focused on Amazon Go, those stores, and they’re focused on delivery,” Lempert said, referring to Amazon's cashierless convenience stores slated for more openings and trials in select Whole Foods locations. "So, it really didn’t have a place to fit in what I think is the plan that Amazon has.”
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