World Bank Group is set to acquire a minority stake in supermarket chain Naivas

Countdown has opened New Zealand’s first purpose-built and permanent eStore

UK's supermarkets and coronavirus lockdown: Quietest time to buy groceries is on Tuesday mornings, research says
Tuesday mornings appear to be the best time to go grocery shopping during lockdown if you want to minimise social contact and queuing time. Under normal circumstances, supermarkets are typically at their quietest on Sunday mornings, but since restrictions were brought in to impede the spread of Covid-19, the public’s shopping patterns have shifted and footfall is now at its lowest levels in grocery stores from 9am to 10am on Tuesdays, according to academics. Researchers at the University of Oxford made the discovery using an online tool developed to understand and predict the effect of social distancing on the public. Using anonymised mobile phone location data, the researchers also found that population movement has dropped by 98% across the UK since the beginning of March.

New Zealand: Countdown opens country’s first 24-hour eStore to service massive online shopping demand
Countdown has opened New Zealand’s first purpose-built and permanent eStore in Auckland, which will help the busy supermarket business service the significant and growing demand it is seeing for online shopping delivery. The 8800 square metre store in Auckland’s Penrose looks like a regular supermarket, with a butchery, bakery, shelves of packaged grocery items, fresh fruit and vegetables. But there’s one critical difference in Countdown’s newest store - there’s not a customer in sight.

Japanese supermarket chain offers staff 'emergency gratitude payment' as stores stay open amid pandemic
With crowds still flocking to supermarkets in Japan amid the coronavirus pandemic and the country’s state of emergency, the operator of Life supermarkets is granting approximately 40,000 of its employees - including part-time workers - an “exceptional emergency gratitude payment”, which will cost the firm around ¥300mln (USD2,79mln) in total. Life Corp. is continuing to operate 275 supermarkets in the Kansai region and Tokyo metropolitan area. The central and some prefectural governments have asked businesses to close due to last week’s state of emergency declaration, which covers seven regions, but supermarkets, convenience stores and drugstores are exempt from these requests.

China: JD promises one-hour delivery with Dada Group
Chinese e-commerce platform JD has partnered with Dada Group to provide one-hour delivery services of daily necessities to JD customers. The move will see the launch of around 100,000 JDDJ-branded online stores on the JD platform, including nearly 100 chain supermarket and store brands such as Walmart. It is an expansion of JD’s Omnichannel Fulfillment supply chain innovation program launched last year to integrate multiple offline channels, enabling them to deliver orders originating from JD directly and improving the efficiency of the supply chain - with delivery times shortened to an average of two hours. The new partnership allows JD buyers to purchase and receive more than 3mln products from participating stores within an hour, with some products available for delivery within 15 minutes.

Kenya: World Bank Group buys Ksh1.5bln stake in Naivas
The private lending arm of the World Bank Group, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), alongside other partners is set to acquire a minority stake worth $15mln (Ksh1.5bln) in Kenyan supermarket chain Naivas. The IFC is part of a consortium of investors involved in the deal; their partners being Private Equity (PE) fund Amethis, DEG and MCB Equity Fund, with the Mukuha family set to retain majority shareholding.

South Africa: Massmart 13-week sales up marginally
South African retailer and wholesaler Massmart said sales for the 13-week period ended March 29 rose 1.3% to 22bln rand ($1.20bln), with comparable store sales up by 0.9%. Total sales from its South African stores increased 1%, while comparable sales inched up by 0.6%. Sales from the rest of Africa, measured in constant currencies, showed positive sales growth of 4.5%, with comparable sales growth of 4.4%, the Walmart Inc-controlled retailer said in a statement.

UK: Waitrose to speed up payments to vulnerable suppliers
Waitrose has launched new initiatives to support its suppliers during the coronavirus pandemic. The upmarket grocer will provide cash to supplier communities in Africa and Central America, support small businesses bring their products to market, and speed up payments to small and vulnerable suppliers. Waitrose has donated £200,000 to its foundation communities in Africa and Central America, where some of its produce is grown, picked and packed.

US: Raley's opens flagship Sacramento store
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Raley’s has opened its new flagship location in Sacramento's Land Park, a project that's been under construction since May 2019. This new store provides what the grocer is calling a more modern shopping experience centered around the company’s health and wellness vision. Ever important in today's climate, the location can process up to 250 orders for pickup or delivery per day. Pickup customers have access to covered, pull-through parking spots, and the proximity of those spot to online ordering, eCart, storage will significantly reduce the wait time for customers when they arrive.

Amazon reaps $11,000-a-second coronavirus lockdown bonanza
The online retailer Amazon has been described as a “clear winner” from the coronavirus crisis, its share price surging by more than a third inside a month, its customers spending almost $11,000 a second on its products and services, and its owner, Jeff Bezos, reinforcing his position as the world’s richest person with a fortune of $138bln. While most businesses have been hit hard by the impact of the pandemic and the looming recession, shares in Amazon have risen to a record high as hundreds of millions people stuck in lockdown conditions turn to the delivery giant to keep them fed and entertained.

US: Island Pacific Supermarket launches "Stay Home, Stay Safe" campaign
Amid the coronavirus pandemic Island Pacific has made the health and safety of its customers, employees and community its top priority. Island Pacific Supermarket has launched its "Stay Home, Stay Safe" campaign by becoming the first Filipino Supermarket chain to provide online shopping with same day grocery delivery in the United States. Island Pacific Supermarket stated: "By shopping at Island Pacific Online everything that you can find in an Island Pacific Supermarket will be available at your fingertips. You will be able to shop a wide array of groceries, fruits, vegetables and prepared foods Island Pacific is known for." 

Canada: Sobeys accelerating its Voilà ecommerce launch
In response to the high demand for its existing online grocery services in Quebec and British Columbia, Sobeys is accelerating the planned launch of its Voilà service in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The Voilà by Sobeys service is being developed in partnership with UK-based Ocado and will be the retailer’s first ecommerce business in the Ontario market. Sobeys anticipates initial testing of the service will begin around April 26, with a phased roll-out across the GTA once this is successfully completed.

US: Whole Foods staff to protest working conditions as coronavirus cases rise
Whole Foods workers across the US are planning to hold another sickout protest on 1 May as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus infections at the supermarket chain continue to rise and workers charge the Amazon-owned company is doing too little to help them. Workers complain too little is being done to enforce social distancing in stores, it is difficult and sometimes impossible, to qualify for sick pay and some are not given masks or training on cleaning. In the meantime Whole Foods are reportedly recording record sales.

US: Retailers turn to community for marketing during coronavirus
Allegiance Retail Services, the cooperative arm for Foodtown, D’Agostino, Gristedes, Big Deal, La Bella, Brooklyn Harvest and Pathmark grocery stores launched a campaign highlighting the thousands of heroes who go to work every day in the their stores in especially hard hit New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. #IStayHomeForMyGroceryHeroes ties in and supports New York governor’s #IStayHomeFor campaign, which honors those working on the front lines and also those vulnerable in our society.

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