The Friday Checkout is a weekly column providing more insight on the news, rounding up the announcements you may have missed and sharing what’s to come.
Things aren’t looking too rosy for the pickup-only grocery store concept these days.
We learned this week that Amazon has closed its last remaining Fresh Pickup location in Seattle, putting an end to an online grocery experiment the company launched in 2017. This comes nearly a year after Walmart shuttered its last two dedicated e-commerce stores and after startups like Addie’s and Fresh Street have given up on the idea.
It’s no surprise that the click-and-collect format, which hatched more than a decade ago and took off during the pandemic, is struggling. Pickup is popular, but so many stores now offer it in addition to the in-store shopping that millions of people prefer. There’s simply no competitive moat around it.
The idea may not be dead and buried yet, however. Online grocery shopping is still growing, and it’s certainly possible for startups to offer faster, better service at these dedicated locations while still touting competitive prices. That seems to be the case at Opie, a “drive-thru” grocer in South Carolina we profiled a while back.
Although it only has one location, Opie has a 4.9/5 rating across more than a hundred Google reviews, with shoppers raving about the friendly customer service and speedy turnaround time on orders. In addition to order-ahead pickup, Opie also takes on-demand orders and offers home delivery in as little as 30 minutes.
JackBe, a pickup-only grocer in Oklahoma, has two locations and plans to open a third early this year, according to its website. If companies can find a sound business model while also addressing the common headaches of online shopping (ugh, substitutions) we could see this innovative concept pick up steam once again.
In case you missed it
DoorDash ramping up grocery focus
Instacart better watch out: DoorDash CEO Tony Xu recently told Financial Times that grocery and retail are the main channels the delivery company is looking to grow to expand its business.
“If you already have a large consumer base, and a large driver base that is interacting with you many times a week, you just have more shots on goal to be able to launch into these adjacent categories,” Xu told the publication, noting that DoorDash went “from zero to a multibillion-dollar business” for non-restaurant deliveries.
Walmart keeps fighting food waste tech lawsuit
In December, a federal judge awarded the retailer the ability to have a new trial after a federal jury in Arkansas ruled that Walmart had stolen trade secrets from Zest Labs, which makes food waste reduction technology, Law360 reported. The federal jury in 2021 had ordered the retailer to pay $115 million.
Lawsuit claims Ralphs violated job-seekers’ rights
A suit filed at the end of December by the California Civil Rights Department alleges that the Kroger banner violated California law by asking prospective employees about their criminal histories. The California Civil Rights Department is seeking monetary damages for workers who were allegedly denied jobs or lost jobs and a court order to require Ralphs to comply with the state’s Fair Chance Act.
Number of the week: $150 million
That’s how much Kansas shoppers will save annually on grocery spending due to a recent reduction in the state’s sales tax on groceries, The Joplin Globe reported. The sales tax was cut in half, to 2%, starting Jan. 1, following a drop from 6.5% to 4% at the start of 2023, according to the publication.
The grocery company is scheduled to release its third-quarter results Tuesday morning. Because of the proposed merger with Kroger, Albertsons will not hold an earnings call.
Latest inflation numbers
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the Consumer Price Index figures for December on Thursday. Grocery prices in November rose at a 1.7% annual pace — the figure was the lowest rate of grocery inflation since June 2021, when it was 0.9%
A horse walks into a grocery store …
A local Cool, California, grocery store saw recently got some visitors with a unique mode of transportation for roaming the aisles.
“I turn around and there’s a horse in the produce aisle,” a store employee said in an interview with CBS News Sacramento.
The shoppers moseyed in on horseback on New Year’s Eve and stayed in the store for 30 minutes, lapping the aisles twice — and bystanders caught it all on video.
Unfortunately, when the horses relieved themselves in the store, it was up to the store employee to clean it up. However, the two horseback shoppers did buy products and utilized self-checkout to pay.