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Industry Updates

Kroger’s Sales Soar 30% in March as More Consumers Stockpile Products

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Grocery stores across the country are selling more products in-store and online as more consumers stockpile in light of the coronavirus.

The Kroger Co. is one of many grocers that have adjusted their best practices on the fly to appease consumers’ shopping habits in light of the coronavirus crisis.

In a business update to the press, Cincinnati-based Kroger announced that it’s too early to speculate on what will emerge as the “new normal” in food consumption as a result of COVID-19 and its impact on grocery shopping.

After experiencing strong sales in February, Kroger said the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a significantly greater lift in sales across both brick-and-mortar retail stores and digital channels in March. Compared to last March, Kroger said identical retail supermarket sales without fuel were about up a whopping 30 percent because of more customers stockpiling products while shopping in stores and online. The demand has been broad-based across grocery and fresh departments, Kroger said.

“Kroger’s most urgent priority is to provide a safe environment for associates and customers with open stores, comprehensive digital solutions and an efficiently operating supply chain, so that our communities have access to fresh, affordable food and essentials,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO.

Kroger, which operates about 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of local banner names in 35 states and the District of Columbia, said its family of companies is investing in pay above regular wages for frontline hourly associates and providing expanded paid sick leave. Kroger has also hired a record number of new associates.

Kroger said it’s also investing in its supply chain to expand capacity where possible.

“We are seeing strong sales and are at the same time investing in our business to support our customers and associates through the current uncertainty,” said Gary Millerchip, Kroger’s chief financial officer.

As a result of recent trends, Kroger said it expects first-quarter identical sales excluding fuel to be better than the annual growth rate provided in guidance for 2020. The grocer also expects volatility in sales throughout the year as the impact of COVID-19 on the consumer evolves, including a potential long-term shift in customer behavior toward eating more food at home.