retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• Whole Foods yesterday announced that it plans to open 70 stores over the next two years, in addition to the 25 being unveiled this year. The company currently operates 329 units.

The announcement came as Whole Foods said that its third quarter net income was up 32 percent to $116.8 million, that total sales for the quarter rose almost 14 percent to $2.7 billion, and that same-store sales were up 8.2 percent.

Co-CEO Walter Robb tells Reuters that so-called "bigger basket" customers - those who buy more items and spend more per visit - increased purchases during the quarter.

• The Orange County Register reports that Safeway-owned Vons in Southern California is dropping its double coupon program, effective August 1.

"The grocery business is highly competitive and we frequently refine our promotions based on the market. That said, effective August 1, we will no longer be accepting double coupons," company spokesman Carlos Illingworth told the Register.

As a replacement, the story says, "the chain is pushing consumers to try its new Just for U program. Launched in January, the mobile app allows customers to load digital coupons, view weekly ads and build personal shopping lists."

• The Los Angeles Times reports that the city of El Monte, California, "faced with a crippling combination of low revenues, high labor costs and decreasing funding from the state ... is moving to declare a fiscal emergency and seek a tax on sugary beverages sold within the city."

According to the story, "El Monte officials said they are not at the edge of bankruptcy but need the sugary drinks tax revenue as a protection against insolvency down the road."
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