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Forbes reports that one year after the completion of Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods, a new study concludes that the impact on Whole Foods’ prices has been negligible, with a lot more noise than actual cuts.

Here’s how the story frames the findings:

“In seven pricing studies of a basket of 108 items over the past year, from the week before the acquisition was completed through Aug. 27, 2018, Gordon Haskett analyst Chuck Grom found that the basket’s aggregate price was just 0.8% below the price before the acquisition was completed. In fact, compared with Whole Foods' first round of price cuts under Amazon a year ago, the basket price has actually inched up 1.3%, the study found.

“Including such perks as the 10% off sale items Amazon offers to Prime members and other member deals, the study found that on Aug. 27, Prime members got savings of about $1.50 on the $400-plus total basket compared with non-Prime members.”

The study concedes that food price inflation needs to be factored into the numbers, since it actually could be argued that Whole Foods is keeping prices down more than they otherwise would have. In addition, the study points out that there have been more cuts in private label than in national brands, as Amazon-owned Whole Foods puts greater emphasis on that side of the business.

Regardless of the numbers, Forbes writes, a different survey concluded that 49 percent of Whole Foods shoppers said that Amazon’s ownership had resulted in lower prices, while 46 percent there was no difference, and five percent said they had gotten higher.
KC's View:
In other words, noise matters.

Let’s remember, Amazon never has been a price leader. It always has been a price follower … albeit one that has been really fast and really nimble in a way that is relevant to people, knowing when and where to lower prices in an effective way.

The other thing is, it hasn’t been that long. We aren’t even close to seeing where Whole Foods fits into the Amazon ecosystem over the long term.

It would be a mistake to underestimate the power of this partnership, and malpractice to feel any sort of complacency.