The Friday Checkout is a weekly column providing more insight on the news, rounding up the announcements you may have missed and sharing what’s to come.
As Amazon continues to grow its Fresh grocery banner footprint across the U.S., the company has made its technology a prime draw, but what about the food?
A reviewer for NJ.com visited a newly opened Fresh store in Paramus, New Jersey, and was not impressed, calling it “a poorly stocked letdown.”
From “barely” anything in the bakery to a small assortment of meat cuts and barren selection in its Fresh Kitchen section, the reviewer said the experience was a “dud.” While they said it was unclear if the missing products were due to high customer demand or if the store isn’t operating at full capacity yet, “Amazon — a company defined by its commitment to efficiency — should have its shelves stocked in the middle of the day.”
Still, that reviewer isn’t the first person to point out stockouts at Amazon Fresh.
“Though not having to stand in a line to check out was a sure time-saver. But if you can’t get what you came for, what good is it?” the NJ.com reviewer asked.
While Amazon has leaned into its fancy tech — smart carts! Just Walk Out! Palm-reading payments! — with its grocery banners, the new review raises questions that could dampen the company’s spirits: Is the tech-driven experience enough to retain shoppers?
In case you missed it
US Weekly rolls out beauty displays at several major grocers
The popular celebrity gossip magazine and parent company Accelerate360 have launched branded endcaps and floor displays containing trending beauty products at “thousands” of Kroger, Albertsons, Meijer and Food Lion stores, according to an emailed press release.
The “Now Trending” displays include moisturizing lip gloss, sugar scrubs, body butter and eyebrow care products, among other selections. New items will rotate in seasonally.
The U.S. beauty and personal care market is worth nearly $88 billion and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of just over 3% through 2026, according to Statista.
IGA and Ratio Institute launch sustainability program for independent grocers
The two organizations want to make sure the program developed by the two organizations includes retailer education, an annual certification program and promotional materials to help educate consumers on a retailers’ eco-friendly practices.
Certification includes four tiers, ranging from basic compliance to full integration of sustainable principles across a company, and covers 17 modules, or practice areas across store- and enterprise-level standards.
The program is available through the Retail Learning Institute, the education organization that connects to more than 10,000 retail stores globally.
Dollar General to build 3 new distribution centers
To service its rapidly growing store fleet, the dollar retailer is spending $480 million on a trio of distribution centers.
Centers in North Little Rock, Arkansas, and Salem, Oregon, will be “dual facilities” that can distribute ambient as well as chilled and frozen items that are part of its DG Fresh initiative. Dollar General is currently building three additional dual-purpose distribution centers as the company continues to expand its assortment of grocery items in stores.
All three facilities are a million square feet in size. The North Little Rock facility and another traditional distribution center in Aurora, Colorado, are expected to be completed in late 2023. The company did not provide a timeline for the Salem facility.
Number of the week: $150 million
That’s the amount Walmart is looking to spend on updating and remodeling 28 of its Wisconsin stores, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
With the updates, Walmart is looking to connect in-store shoppers more with the retailer’s shopping app, The Post-Crescent reported. The changes include refreshed interiors and bathrooms, more self-checkout lanes and manned registers and allowing customers to use the retailer’s touch-free payment option Walmart Pay, according to the local reports.
Pickup and delivery services will also become available at more locations as part of the project, The Post-Crescent noted.
Sprouts Farmers Market announcing second quarter earnings
The specialty grocer is slated to hold its next earnings call Wednesday after the stock market closes. Investors will likely closely follow the results given Sprouts’ ongoing struggles with its comparable store sales.
Natural Grocers holding third quarter earnings call
The grocer is set to provide investors an update on its third quarter results Thursday afternoon. The Colorado-based health food chain may give an update on its recent hiring efforts to bring on 500 workers and provide information on how many shoppers have signed up for its Npower loyalty program, which has seen steady growth in recent years.