"I would definitely go back if they lower their prices," my friend Nancy said on Facebook when she heard Whole Foods will be cutting prices. "Since Aldi went organic and because they having much better prices, I haven't gone to Whole Foods in forever."
My friend isn't alone.
Whole Foods once had the organic market cornered because of the company's large selection of organic and natural foods that were difficult to find anywhere else. Prices on these foods were high — so high that the store earned an unfortunate nickname, "Whole Paycheck." But with stores like Aldi, Trader Joe's and Target offering more organic and natural foods, and conventional grocery chains increasing their organic options (often with a lower price tag), Whole Foods has lost customers. The company has been adding more prepared foods and eat-in options to attract people, but that may not have been enough. Now, Whole Foods is going to lower prices on groceries.
A concern is that to keep prices low, the chain will have to get rid of the type of things that you can only find at Whole Foods, like local products and "quirky items." Additionally, there may be less variety in products. Instead of every type of quinoa imaginable, there may be only a limited number of choices in the bulk bins or on the shelves.
The way new foods end up on the shelf will change, too. Instead of a company pitching products to individual regions, the producers will have to pitch their wares at national headquarters in Austin, Texas. This could greatly affect small producers, like my friend Cindy Irvin, whose one-woman company Our Souls Shine recently got approval for her delicious small-batch Cinnamon Kale Applesauce to go on the shelves at the Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Whole Foods. The change means it will be that much harder for small companies to get their products on Whole Foods' shelves.
So Whole Foods may have products and prices that are priced more like Aldi or Target, but if some of the hard-to-find products go away, will the lower prices bring people back? Will shoppers make a special trip to Whole Foods when they can get something similar when they have go to Target to pick up lawn furniture and T-shirts anyway?
Some people, like my friend Nancy, may give it a try. But for others, new, lower prices may not be enough. As another one of my friends noted on Facebook,"I don't have time to run to a million different stores anymore, so if I can't get everything in one stop, I'm not likely to go there."
Will lower prices get you through the door of your local Whole Foods?