Whole Foods Market moves ahead with new store openings

Stewart Samuel
Program Director - Canada

Date : 25 June 2020

Whole Foods Market has opened its new store in Baltimore, having initially paused the launch to use the facility as a dark store to support demand for its online shopping service.

Opening to the public

The Baltimore store was one of three which the retailer held back on opening to the public earlier this year, along with locations in Austin and Castle Rock, Colorado. Along with existing stores in New York, San Francisco and Chicago, these three stores were used to support the unprecedented demand for online shopping during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. With demand stabilising, but remaining elevated, the store is able to fully open to the public.

Source: Whole Foods Market

Emphasising quality and freshness credentials

The store is a replacement for an existing location in the city. It features a design concept that has been used elsewhere within the network. This provides a great backdrop for its fresh-led features, including its produce department, meat and seafood counters and bakery.

Source: Whole Foods Market

The store also features the retailer’s wellness and beauty offer.

Source: Whole Foods Market

Friends of Whole Foods Market

Reflecting an initiative that was originally developed for the retailer’s now terminated Whole Foods Market 365 concept, the store features two external foodservice partners. Introduced as part of the ‘Friends of Whole Foods Market’ programme, the Gypsy Queen Café and Ejji Ramen are open for takeout orders only. This initiative enables innovative businesses and entrepreneurs that align with the mission and quality standards of the retailer to establish their own independent retail spaces within its stores. These are typically foodservice partnerships. The store also features a wide range of take-home meal solutions, including its ‘Build a Meal’ programme.

Source: Whole Foods Market

Retailers turning on the new space pipeline

June has seen a major uptick in new food retail developments in the US. As most retailers delayed planned stores in April and May, with trading now stabilising, several of these have opened. This includes new stores from Albertsons, HEB, Publix, Sprouts, Raley’s and Schnucks this month. While there may not have been an opportunity to change the layouts and features of these stores to reflect the post-COVID-19 trading environment, we expect that stores currently being developed will start to look differently. A greater role for ecommerce integration, different foodservice models, the incorporation of permanent social distancing features and more contactless experiences will be key considerations for new stores going forward.

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