US: Sprouts Farmers Market moves ahead with store openings during pandemic
As consumers continue to strain the resources of grocers across the country, Sprouts Farmers Market is opening three new stores this month, with another scheduled for June. One store in Silverdale, Washington, was scheduled to open in March, but that was delayed until April 8 because coronavirus was beginning to spread, according to The News Tribune in Tacoma, Washington. It's the third Sprouts location in Washington state.
US: Hy-Vee provides online ordering via Mealtime To Go
Hy-Vee Inc. is now offering the ability for customers to order curbside meals to go online at more than 200 of its locations. Hy-Vee’s Mealtime To Go offerings consist of prepared foods and take-and-bake meals. Meals are available for free pickup in as little as 30 minutes, or they can be scheduled for a future pickup time. Customers can order online or via Hy-Vee's Aisles Online app.
US: The Instacart for local produce: Farm-to-phone app CropSwap connects communities through food
At a time when grocery stores bear empty shelves and farmers markets take a hiatus due to social distancing recommendations, CropSwap introduces a game-changing farm-to-phone app that connects consumers with the best farmers and growers in their communities, making it easier, safer, and more accessible than ever to buy fresh produce online. "The impact of this pandemic on our shopping habits has been significant", says Roberto Reiner, CEO and co-founder of CropSwap. "It has become more evident than ever of our urgent need for a smarter, more sustainable shared food economy. CropSwap empowers shoppers to search fresh, local produce in their area and arrange a purchase and safe exchange of products. During these difficult times and beyond, we hope to be a path toward a more accessible, conscious and sustainable food system".
US: Walmart Grocery app sees record downloads amid COVID-19, surpasses Amazon by 20%
Record demand for online grocery shopping amid the COVID-19 pandemic has sent the apps for grocery pickup and delivery services up the charts. Walmart Grocery, as a result, has now hit an all-time high in downloads - grabbing the No. 1 ranking position across all Shopping apps in the U.S. on April 5, 2020, and surpassing Amazon by 20%, according to a new analysis from app intelligence firm App Annie. The Walmart Grocery application retained that No. 1 position for at least two days, the firm said, citing data from both the Google Play store and the Apple App Store, combined.
Costco set to open new store in China's Suzhou city
U.S. retail giant Costco will open a new store in China’s eastern city of Suzhou, near Shanghai, state media reported. Costco’s subsidiary in Suzhou bought a piece of land in Suzhou New District at a cost of more than 142.5mln yuan ($20.2mln), according to the management committee of Suzhou New District. The plan is for a warehouse store with a floor area of more than 50,000 square meters to be built on the site.
Japan: Seven & i posts 3% rise in annual operating profit
Japanese retail group Seven & i Holdings Co reported a 3% rise in annual operating profit. Seven & i, which owns both the popular 7-Eleven convenience store and Ito-Yokado supermarket chain, reported an operating profit of 424.27bln yen ($3.9bln) for the year through February, compared with 411.6bln a year earlier. The company previously said it would delay announcing guidance and longer-term business plans as it deals with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
South Korea: Online grocery-delivery startup Kurly wins US$150mln funding
South Korean premium grocery-delivery firm Kurly has procured funding of US$150mln from its existing investors. Backers contributing to the Series E funding round were Sequoia Capital, Hillhouse Capital, and DST Global, placing the firm’s valuation at roughly $780mln, according to Deal Street Asia. Despite the positive outlook as successful attraction of more than KRW400bln ($329mln) over five rounds, the firm remains in the red as labour and operational costs drain profits while competition intensifies. It is expected that the coronavirus epidemic may yield a positive benefit to the firm as South Koreans stay home to avoid infection and order their food online.
Greece: Retail sales rose 10.1% in January, study finds
Greek retail sales rose by 10.1% in January, in value terms, according to a study by statistics firm ELSTAT, however future sales are likely to be impacted by the growing COVID-19 epidemic in the country. The positive January performance compares to a 2.2% increase in December, and a 4.7% increase in November. Volume sales were up 8.4% in January, which again is an improvement on a 0.6% increase in December and a 3.7% gain in November.
Japan: Aeon sees annual operating profit falling as much as 77% amid virus crisis
Japanese supermarket giant Aeon said its operating profit may drop as much as 77% in the year through next February as the coronavirus outbreak hits global consumer spending and forces some of its stores to close. The company, which runs Asia’s biggest supermarket chain including stores in China, said operating profit for the year that just ended rose 1.5% to 215.5bln.