Shoppers may see big changes after Amazon buys Whole Foods

Yesterday, Amazon stunned everyone when it revealed that it had agreed to buy out Whole Foods Market for a monstrous sum of close to $14 billion. It accounts for less than 5 percent of sales in supermarket chains that offer the service to customers, he said. But she would never buy food online, she said.

Wal-Mart was just one of the many retailers whose stocks were impacted by the news that Amazon is acquiring Whole Foods. "We're playing offense", he said. It also is testing same-day fresh and frozen home delivery from 10 of its stores. "We'd like to see what we're buying", he said.

But mostly, online business gives shoppers choices, he said.

Roger Davidson, who oversaw Wal-Mart's global food procurement and now is president of Oakton Advisory Group, said the deal will reduce Wal-Mart's brick-and-mortar advantage.

Some industry observers say Amazon will find it hard to use Whole Foods to pull away Wal-Mart shoppers because the two stores appeal to different customers.

For his part John Mackey, Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO said "This partnership presents an opportunity to maximize value for Whole Foods Market's shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience and innovation to our customers". Whole Foods itself had launched an offshoot chain named after its "365" private label brand in a nod to the popularity of no-frills chains. Amazon could provide the financial capital and tactical ability to build that into something big.

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Alina Gura of Newington who was visiting the Whole Foods store with her almost two-year-old daughter, said she appreciates the quality of the food, particularly its organic products. Wal-Mart reported $6.9 billion in cash and equivalents and $20.9 billion in free cash flow at its year ended January 31.

But shoppers could start to grow more comfortable buying, and Amazon sees the grocery business as a hot market because shoppers buy weekly or even more often for items they run out of.

Cowen analysts said that the grocery industry can be broken into three categories - perishable food, non-perishables and consumer products - and Amazon has its hands in all three of those areas, reports CNBC.

But once the deal is complete and WFM is wholly in the Amazon fold, quite a bit is expected to change - and not just on the grocery front.

News of the deal sent shares of traditional retailers such as Walmart, Target, Costco and Kroger tumbling as much as 13 per cent as investors tried to digest the implications of an Amazon-backed grocery chain.

Amazon declined comment on competition with Walmart but spokesman Drew Herdener said in a statement the company has no plans to cut jobs or use technology in development at its Seattle Amazon Go store to automate jobs of cashiers.

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