Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and its powerful e-commerce empire have long been a threat to retailers everywhere, but with its acquisition of Whole Foods this past summer, Amazon’s presence is even more pronounced. And Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) might be feeling the worst of this.
By adding brick-and-mortar locations, Amazon has given itself quite a few options for expansion, although its most recent focus has been entirely on the Whole Foods segment. First, prices were cut across the board for the organic grocer that has been previously called “Whole Paycheck.” Price cuts were by as much as 43%.
Jeff Bezos is no stranger to not turning a profit or to losing money. Years ago, Amazon was criticized for not posting profits, but critics quickly changed their tunes when the bottom line started showing up. It seems that he’s taking a similar strategy by lowering prices at Whole Foods to lure customers in and build market share, and of course with Amazon’s $450 billion market cap, the firm can absorb any losses that might come with it.
What’s important here is that after the Whole Foods acquisition — and the price cuts — foot traffic jumped by roughly 33% in the first week, according to the research firm Thasos Group. The firm also noted that Walmart regulars accounted for the largest percentage of first-time customers. During this week, 24% of new Whole Foods customers were previously loyal Walmart customers.
Separately, Thasos noted that smaller grocers such as Trader Joe’s and Sprouts saw fewer customer losses in this week, but these were larger than Walmart’s losses relative to their customer bases. To put some numbers to this, the firm said that Trader Joe’s saw about 10% of its regular customers go to Whole Foods, and Sprouts saw roughly 8%. Even Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) had about 3% of its customer base make it over to Whole Foods.
Finally, the research firm found that lower income-shoppers were not persuaded to travel into wealthy neighborhoods, where Whole Foods stores are most commonly found. But Thasos does believe that if Amazon should cut prices even more, it will find more of these lower-income customers making the trip.
Shares of Amazon were last seen at $959.50, with a consensus analyst price target of $1,153.60 and a 52-week range of $710.10 to $1,083.31.
Wal-Mart traded at $78.90. The stock has a 52-week range of $65.28 to $81.99 and a consensus price target of $82.44.
Target shares were trading at $59.70, in a 52-week range of $48.56 to $79.33. The consensus price target is $59.28.