- Whole Foods is delaying the opening of several of its small-format less-expensive 365 stores, reports the Chicago Business Journal. Its suburban area Chicago location, which was due to open in November, is now being pushed into 2018.
- Additional 365 units — including those in Bloomington, Indiana and Toledo, Ohio — have also been pushed or put on hold, according to the Chicago Tribune.
- Just four 365 by Whole Foods Market stores are currently in operation, but an additional 22 remain in the pipeline.
The fate of the value-oriented smaller-format 365 by Whole Foods Market seems to be up in the air while the retailer awaits the closing of its sale to Amazon. It’s unclear at this point whether the sites will indeed get the go-ahead to progress as the lower-priced 365 concept as originally planned, become traditional Whole Foods stores, or something else.
When Whole Foods launched 365 last year, the small, easy-to-build, millennial-focused grocery store was intended to help fight the retailer’s “whole paycheck” reputation and entice younger shoppers. But rollout has been slow to transpire and performance issues have surfaced.
During its second quarter earnings call in May, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey acknowledged that two of the four stores were not meeting expectations. Still, the retailer made plans to ramp up openings — with another 22 units in the pipeline — while working to fine-tune the business model. Just last week, the Sun-Sentinel reported that Whole Foods was planning yet another 365 store in Delray Beach, Florida for early 2019.
But the Amazon/Whole Foods transaction changes things. Many industry experts expect Amazon to help Whole Foods remove back-end costs and drive down prices in its eponymous larger-format stores. If this is the case, the fate of the 365 concept might be sealed. There may no longer be a need for a separate lower-priced 365 banner to exist at all.