After two and a half years and 12 store openings, Whole Foods is abandoning its cheaper 365 by Whole Foods concept. The grocer will not open any more 365 locations going forward, according to internal emails from CEO John Mackey reported by Yahoo Finance, though the current stores will remain open.
Geared towards (who else!) millennials, the 365 name was borrowed from Whole Foods’ in-house brand, 365 Everyday. Smaller than the typical Whole Foods, the stores feature a slimmed-down product selection and significantly lower prices on items like produce and meat. The first location opened in LA’s Silver Lake neighborhood in May 2016, and other stores followed in places such as Brooklyn, Atlanta, and Akron, Ohio; the most recent opening was just last month in Atlanta, and prior to that, a store debuted five months ago in Houston.
The driving force behind no more 365s is, unsurprisingly, Amazon, which acquired Whole Foods in mid-2018. According to its corporate higher-ups, Amazon has lowered the grocery chain’s notoriously high, “whole paycheck” prices: “As we have been consistently lowering prices in our core Whole Foods Market stores over the past year, the price distinction between the two brands has become less relevant,” Mackey wrote in last week’s email. Cheaper prices did indeed go into effect at Whole Foods after it was acquired by Amazon, including up to 40 percent drops for certain produce items like organic apples and avocados, though some argue the average cost of a basket of groceries hasn’t actually gotten much cheaper. The store now offers additional 10 percent off discounts for Prime members, however, plus special weekly deals.
Meanwhile, Whole Foods is reportedly eyeing shuttered Sears and Kmart stores as it looks to expand more into middle America, further cementing Amazon’s seemingly imminent goal of ruling the world.