Online gains offset flat Whole Foods store sales


By Josh Sosland, Baking Business



SEATTLE — Even as adjusted sales from brick and mortar Whole Foods Market stores held about steady in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2018, overall Whole Foods sales enjoyed solid growth thanks to the company’s Prime Now app.


In a Jan. 31 conference call with investment analysts, Brian T. Olsavksy, Amazon’s senior vice-president and chief financial officer sought to offer a complete picture of Whole Foods sales trends. Whole Foods is owned by, Inc.


Mr. Olsavsky said Amazon physical store sales slipped 3% in the third quarter, principally because of Whole Foods (the figure also includes other stores — Amazon Bookstores, Amazon Go and Amazon Four Star). Partly accounting for the decline was a realignment in 2017 linking up the fiscal calendars of Amazon and Whole Foods, adding about five days to revenue in the fourth quarter of 2017. Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods closed in August 2017.


What isn’t counted in store sales are orders for delivery or pickup at Whole Foods using the Prime Now app, Mr. Olsavsky said during the call.


“If you adjust for those, what’s the Whole Foods growth year-over-year on an apples-to-apples basis was approximately 6%,” he said. “Because of some of those, again, mostly the year-over-year counting or days true-up issue, it’s showing up as negative 3% in physical stores.”


Announcing the company’s financial results, Amazon listed growth of its grocery delivery and pickup...