SALES SLUMP

Whole Foods is slipping and it’s looking to millennial shoppers for help

Whole Foods is less than a month away (May 25) from opening its first millennial-targeted supermarket, an effort to boost growth as single-store sales at its upscale flagship locations have slowed for a third straight quarter.

The Austin, Texas-based company on Wednesday (May 4) reported single-store sales fell 3% compared to the prior year, while gross profit fell by 1.5% to $1.2 billion. Total sales increased by about 1% to $3.6 billion.

The upscale grocery chain said it’s hopeful (pdf) single-store sales will improve during the rest of the year, though that will be tough as management lowers prices on some products and ramps up promotions—including digital coupons—to drive in-store traffic.

Whole Foods is hoping its newer, smaller 365-branded markets will give customers, especially penny-pinching millennials, the option of cheaper food, faster checkouts and (at least in some stores) spots to eat at in-store fast casual restaurants.

The grocer has said there’s an appetite for up to 1,200 of the smaller stores in the US, and plans to open three of them in 2016. Analysts at Deutsche Bank in January, however, expressed doubt that US customers will want more than 700 to 840 of them.

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