Kroger sees 30% rise in identical sales w/o fuel in March, but ‘too early to speculate what will emerge as the new normal’

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Kroger sees 30% rise in identical sales w/o fuel in March, but ‘too early to speculate what will emerge as the new normal’

Related tags: Kroger, COVID-19, coronavirus, pandemic

Kroger started to see a “significant shift in customer behavior” during the last few days of February as shoppers started stocking up, with sales accelerating sharply in March, generating a 30% rise in identical (same store) retail supermarket sales without fuel compared to March 2019.

The coronavirus pandemic triggered a significantly greater lift in sales across both physical retail stores and digital channels in March​,” said the company in a statement​ Wednesday.

“This was driven by dramatically heightened demand in the middle of the month as customers were stockpiling, which then tapered, but remained higher than normal in the final week, as customers adjusted to the new dining, work, and travel restrictions… The demand has been broad based across grocery and fresh departments.”

But it added: “It is too early to speculate what will emerge as the ‘new normal’ in food consumption at home or what the impact on sales will be in future periods.”

As customers seek to avoid physical stores during the pandemic, Kroger is “well-positioned to support them with pick-up, delivery, and ship to home solutions,”​ added the firm, which said it is investing in its workforce, associate and customer safety, and the supply chain.

Recent initiatives at Kroger include:

  • Extra pay and expanded paid sick leave for frontline hourly associates.
  • Plexiglass partitions at checkout lanes, pharmacy, and Starbucks registers across the enterprise.
  • Floor decals to promote physical distancing at check lanes and other counters.
  • More frequent and rigorous cleaning and sanitization procedures in stores, distribution centers and manufacturing facilities.
  • Investment in its supply chain to expand capacity where possible.  
  • Adjusting store operating hours to allow more time for cleaning and replenishment.
  • An expansion of online pickup and delivery, and contactless payment solutions such as Kroger Pay.
  • Hiring more than 32,700 new associates in the last two weeks, including workers from restaurants, hotels, and food service distributors.
  • Providing $3m+ to Feeding America and No Kid Hungry and donating food and funds to local food banks and hunger-relief efforts.

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