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Whole Foods Plays Bargain Grocer in Manhattan

Updated on
New York City Groceries

Whole Foods Market Inc., working to shed its “Whole Paycheck” image, has become one of the cheaper chains for grocery shopping in Manhattan, according to a report by Bloomberg Intelligence.

A basket of 97 items, including orange juice and frozen pizza, was $391.39 at Whole Foods, compared with $398.44 from Fresh Direct and $458.84 at Gristedes, according to the study led by Jennifer Bartashus, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst in Skillman, New Jersey. Food Emporium and D’Agostino also were more expensive than Whole Foods in New York City.

The nation’s largest natural-goods grocer has been lowering its prices, especially on produce, to better compete with food sellers that are aggressively pushing into organics. The Austin, Texas-based company also will try to boost sales with a new marketing campaign starting this fall, Co-Chief Executive Officer Walter Robb said on a conference call in July.

Fresh Direct, based in Long Island City, New York, sells and delivers groceries, including organic produce and dairy items, to customers’ homes. Gristedes, founded over a century ago, has more than 30 stores in Manhattan, Westchester and Brooklyn, according to its website.

Whole Foods was still pricier than Fairway Market, whose basket of goods was $347.10. New York-based Fairway Group Holdings Corp. went public last year and recently began offering delivery in some markets. The chain has boosted sales by expanding in densely populated areas in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Share Performance

Whole Foods shares fell 0.1 percent to $39.05 at the close in New York, while Fairway slid 2.5 percent to $4.23. Both Whole Foods and Fairway have underperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index this year. Whole Foods has slid 32 percent, and Fairway has dropped 77 percent, while the index has gained 8.2 percent.

Bloomberg Intelligence conducted the study at stores in Manhattan last month.

Whole Foods cut its sales forecast in July, saying revenue this fiscal year will rise as much as 9.9 percent, down from a previous estimate of as much as 11 percent. It’s facing more competition from regional chains as well as national grocers including Kroger Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which both sell organic fare.

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