ECOMMERCE

Study: Walmart shoppers checking out Whole Foods Market

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

As Whole Foods Market continues to slash prices at its stores, the chain is attracting competitors’ shoppers — including those from Walmart.

This was according to “Competitive Impact of Lower Prices at Whole Foods,” a report from data intelligence firm Thasos Group.

Immediately following Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods in August, the natural foods grocer has significantly dropped prices on merchandise storewide. This effort has increased foot traffic by 17% year-over-year during the week of the price reductions, which began on Aug. 28.

Walmart’s regular customers accounted for the largest percentage (24%) of Whole Foods’ new customers the week of Aug. 28. Kroger (16%), Costco (15%) and Target (11%) comprised the next largest numbers of new customers.

When it comes to customer defections, Trader Joe’s saw the highest rate, with an average loss of nearly 10% daily customers. This was followed by Sprouts (8%) and Target (3%), the study revealed.

Whole Foods’ new customers overwhelmingly belonged to the same upper income demographic as the company’s traditional customer base. Furthermore, defecting customers came from the wealthiest segment of each competing store’s customer base the week of the price cuts.

Since the price cuts were first announced, foot traffic has settled in at lower, but still elevated levels. The price reductions were too insufficient to attract new kinds of customers, as new customer demographics (including income levels and distance driven to a given store) largely matched those of existing customers, the study said.

“Knowing which stores new customers have defected from, what income levels they represent, how far they traveled to get to Whole Foods, and ultimately, whether they will continue to shop there after trying it out, are invaluable pieces of information for both investors and the stores themselves,” said Greg Skibiski, Thasos Group CEO and founder.

“We all know that Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods has the potential to be a game-changer in the grocery space, and in the &lsquobrick-and-mortar versus online’ battle more broadly,” he added. “It will be extremely interesting to watch the winners and losers emerge from the data over the coming months.”

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DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION

Fast-fashion retailer to open in D.C. landmark building

BY Marianne Wilson

Uniqlo is opening a shop in one of the nation's most historic train stations.

The retailer will open its newest U.S. outpost on Oct. 10, at Union Station in Washington, D.C. It will be located on the main level, adjacent to Amtrak ticketing, and will open at 7 a.m. during the week to serve morning commuters.

The 3,400-sq-ft. store will carry products for men and women, with an offering that emphasizes the brand’s light, packable essentials. There will be a special focus on grab-and-go items that meet the needs of customers passing through the highly trafficked corridor.

The Union Station site will be Uniqlo's 46th store in the U.S. and second in the D.C. metro area nearly a year after its opening at Tyson’s Corner in McLean, Virginia. The new store also follows the opening of a pop-up shop on F Street which opened on Sept. 28.

Uniqlo, a division of Fast Retailing, has more than 1,900 stores in 19 markets worldwide.

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DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION

Popular eatery to open cashless location—with kiosk-only ordering

BY Marianne Wilson

Shake Shack, the burger chain founded by famed restaurateur Danny Meyer, is taking a high-tech approach to its newest site.

The company will open a cashless, kiosk-only location, at Astor Place in Manhattan, in early October. The eatery will feature several digital kiosks, and employees will be stationed around the units to assist guests with their orders and answer any questions. Using the kiosk, patrons select their food, place the order and choose to receive an alert via text when their order is ready. Customers can also use their mobile phones to place an order via the restaurant's app. The new Shack will have a similar dining room and waiting area as a traditional Shack, according to CNBC.

Shake Shack said the kiosk concept was developed to allow it to serve more patrons at peak times, resulting in fewer lines, less wait time and quicker speed of service at every channel.

“The Astor Place Shack will be a playground where we can test and learn the ever-shifting needs of our guests," said Randy Garutti, CEO of Shake Shack. "We’re excited to lead with kiosk-only ordering, putting control of the Shake Shack experience in our guest’s hands, and an optimized kitchen with increased capacity for mobile orders and eventual delivery integration to support ongoing digital innovation."

Building what it called "a business model to support digital innovation," Shake Shack will pay workers at the Astor Place location a starting wage of $15 per hour.

“We’re thrilled to be starting our team members at $15 per hour in this location as we continue to take care of our teams first, while we evolve our business model for a big future ahead," said Garutti. "The Astor Place Shack represents our dedication to innovation and to providing the best for our guests and for our teams.”

Shake Shack opened its first location in 2004, in Manhattan. The company currently operates than 85 locations in 18 U.S. States and the District of Columbia, and more than 50 international locations.

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