Amazon to Slash Jobs at Whole Foods, Dump Cashiers, Switch to Cheaper Products in Price War with Wal-Mart

Here’s something Wal-Mart could do to Amazon, just to be nasty.

Amazon expects to slash jobs and other costs at Whole Foods, “a person with knowledge of the company’s grocery plans” told Bloomberg. The ink isn’t even dry on the proposed deal, but synergies and efficiencies are already being trotted out.

Amazon agreed to acquire Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, a 27% premium over the stock price on Thursday at close, and now intends to push down prices to slough off Whole Food’s nickname “Whole Paycheck,” and go after Wal-Mart Stores, Target, the German discounters Aldi and Lidl that are expanding in the US, Costco, and grocery store chains, such as Kroger and the private-equity owned chains Safeway and Albertson’s.

The jobs to be cut include cashiers, who’d be replaced by Amazon’s own “Just Walk Out Technology,” now being tested at its Amazon Go convenience store in Seattle. When customers with the Amazon Go app on their smartphones walk into the store, the system logs them into the store’s network and establishes the connection to their Amazon account.

The system uses “computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning,” Amazon says, to track everything customers pull off the shelf. If customers put an item back, the system removes it from the virtual cart in their app. When done, customers can just walk out without having to go through a check-out line. The system will automatically charge the customer’s account and send out a receipt.

This system would replace the cashiers at Whole Foods, “according to the person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the plans are private,” Bloomberg reported.

So not the cumbersome self-check-out machines we’ve been grappling with for years, but something that would allow Amazon to differentiate itself. However, the main advantage would be a radical reduction in labor costs at Whole Foods stores. The “employees remaining would help improve the shopping experience, the person said,” according to Bloomberg.

Amazon also expects to make a number of other changes, including to the merchandise the store carries, all in order to push down prices. Amazon would introduce private-label products – in addition to Whole Foods’ existing private-label products – to replace products that it considers too expensive. So get ready for Amazon’s food brands.

These changes won’t take place until after the transaction has closed, which is expected to be later this year.

The grocery price war is already red-hot. So the high prices that have hobbled Whole Foods over the past two years will likely be gone.

After Whole Foods becomes part of the Amazon empire later this year, it no longer needs to make significant and growing profits. That quaint concept is out the window. Amazon is like so beyond that. It can lose money, no problem. On its own, Whole Foods could have never done that.

An Amazon spokesperson denied everything. Amazon has “no plans to use no-checkout technology to automate the jobs of cashiers at Whole Foods and no job reductions are planned,” he told Bloomberg in a statement.

Alas, almost all acquisitions of this type entail efforts to find synergies and efficiencies, as they’re called, to bring costs down to make the transaction work, which translates into hefty job cuts. And since the deal is far from closing, there need not be official “plans” at this point.

Amazon has made an art out of pricing, with prices jumping up and down dramatically, depending on who is looking at it, what kinds of cookies and browsing history they have on their devices, and what is known about them, for example when they’re checking a price while logged into Amazon.

This “variable pricing” model – which has spawned an entire sub-industry to defeat it – has spread to other retailers and can drive astute shoppers nuts. Of course, airlines and other industries also have used it for years. It would be interesting to see if Amazon can figure out how to move it to its brick-and-mortar stores – say, with prices only being posted on smartphones with the Amazon Go app when you get to the product.

Amazon is also going after low- and middle-income shoppers. For a mass-market retailer, it needs all customers. It already has cheaper Amazon Prime memberships for customers who are on government assistance, according to Bloomberg. And it’s testing a program to deliver groceries to recipients of food stamps.

Now if Wal-Mart Stores wanted to put a little squeeze on Amazon, just to be nasty, it could offer something like $4 billion more for Whole Foods so that Amazon would outbid Wal-Mart by offering another $2 billion or $3 billion, at which point Wal-Mart would walk away, celebrating, and Amazon would have to come up with $20 billion to buy Whole Foods, not $13.6 billion, which could dent its credit rating and make things just a little harder for Amazon in the future. Just thinking out loud here.

When Amazon announced the deal, shares of Wal-Mart, Kroger, Costco, and Target get crushed. Read…  Amazon, the Death of Brick & Mortar, Buys into Brick & Mortar

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  192 comments for “Amazon to Slash Jobs at Whole Foods, Dump Cashiers, Switch to Cheaper Products in Price War with Wal-Mart

  1. Jim C says:

    Does this mean Amazon’s Whole Foods will be an improve version of Webvan that I can order groceries online delivering goodies via drones? That would be nice.

  2. Bobber says:

    Why in the world wouldn’t Amazon do a big acquisition with their inflated stock? It’s not like they have a bunch of cash sitting around. That’s a real puzzle. There may be something fishy going on.

    • jdrew says:

      There is something fishy…Bezo’s/Washington Post, are no friend of Trump yet essentially unreported is the fact that Bezo’s and Trump had dinner Thursday night at the White Huse….next day, the acquisition is announced. Where are the Trump administration anti-trust officials?

    • chip javert says:

      What you call fishy probably isn’t: Bezos probably strongly believes AMZN stock is undervalued, so why use an undervalued currency for the acquisition when you can use US$?

      Secondly, If AMZN paid stock, those shareholders would share in any appreciation of AMZN stock as a result of the acquisition. Paying cash means the set of AMZN shareholders stays the same.

      You may not agree with Bezos, but he’s been right more often than wrong.

  3. raxadian says:

    And all that just for a 1% to 2% of profits? Wallmart is barely making it as it is, even if it’s going better than the rest.

    People might switch to cheaper brands to save money but they rarely go for the cheapest one unless they have no choice since they also want quality.

    Amazon will probably use ways to combine their online market with Whole Foods but that will take at least a few months.

    Oh and probably use the data the have on you to decide how much they will charge you. A bad habit they have since the times they only sold books.

    They will just replace regular price tags for electronic ones first.

    • Marty says:

      Hey, 1-2% profit is 2-5% more profit than Amazon gets on it’s other businesses–the river of no returns. It looks like that Amazon’s handlers were more interested in putting mom and pop bricks-and-mortar out of business than profits. It’s the hunt for taxes. Now that they’ve destroyed small biz, there after other prey.

      Didn’t you know there are 6 companies in the world courtesy of the USG, and they are merging tomorrow?

      • Smingles says:

        Amazon made about $700 million in profits in the first quarter.

        I don’t think people really understand Amazon.

        • J Bank says:

          They don’t. They’re fixed in their way of thinking, and they can’t imagine that maybe–just maybe–the management team is smarter than they are.

          Amazon, Google, and Microsoft PRINT MONEY. They could change precious little in their businesses and make stacks of cash for years before a competitor even got close.

          I can’t remember the last time I bought deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, or paper products because Amazon just delivers on schedule.

          I can’t remember the last time I searched for something on the internet and didn’t use Google to do it. Hell, I haven’t used a different personal email other than Gmail in well over a decade.

          And Microsoft… the entire business world runs on Windows. They simply aren’t going anywhere.

          The difference between Amazon and Google is that Amazon is reinvesting right away into different things, while Google is piling cash and being more patient. That’s they only difference. Both have their fingers in a lot of pies, both have a virtual treasure trove of data (along with proprietary ways of taking advantage of that data), and both are generally well liked by their customers and the public in general.

    • Meme Imfurst says:

      Here ya go…knock yourself out with this ditty. Try and keep your breakfast down as you read it.

      • TJ Martin says:

        And that in ant way shape or form surprises you … why ?

        FYI; The same’s been going on for over five years at all the major department stores . Leave your cellphone on with the GPS active and they’ll follow your every move from entrance to exit

        • Ethan in Northern VA says:

          GPS doesn’t usually work indoors.

          They could try to watch for bluetooth or your phone’s attempts to connect to known wifi. I believe some vendors (Apple?) are randomizing the Wireless MAC address to thwart tracking, maybe also the bluetooth MAC address.

          (MAC address is a unique hardware address given to network interfaces.)

      • Petunia says:

        They might also jam your phone so you can’t comparison shop in their store.

        • YIH says:

          Cellphone jamming is illegal. Any retailer caught doing it risks a hefty fine. Movie theaters learned that the hard way.

    • Pete says:

      Whole Foods shoppers buy for quality or percieved snob status, prices do not matter. Cheaper brands will not happen, expect both price and quality to go up, not down.

      • Blossom says:

        Agreed. But cheaper brands will happen. The underlying product will be the same but snobs will pay more for snobby brands.

  4. AC says:

    This is going to be a train wreck for Amazon.

    • Meme Imfurst says:

      ARE YOU SAYING THE DEEP STATE WILL NOT COME TO HIS RESCUE with contracts from the State Department?

      I would rather do without then buy from Besos. Look at the trusty old WPO any what it has become….a fish wrapper, a tabloid festival of unverifiable gossip. He wants to be king of the world, so let him try but the history books are littered with greed gone bad.

      I will say that I have bought from Walmart online, and I don’t know how any company could do better in serving their customers.

      • DH says:

        Are you really saying you refuse to buy from Amazon… but you’ll buy from Walmart? That’s a strange ethical line to draw.

        • Smingles says:

          He’s saying he won’t buy from Amazon because of Bezos’ personal politics, but he’ll buy from Walmart regardless of their disgusting business practices.

          It IS a strange ethical line to draw; welcome to the right-wing bubble of America.

          (Amazon also has plenty of bad practices, but that is not the reason right-wingers don’t buy from them)

        • DH says:

          Thanks, Smingles. I always saw it as corporations vs. the little guy, regardless of politics, although, admittedly, huge corporations tended to be pretty conservative in the past, so I guess some would see that as a political argument.

          We’re really through the looking glass if we have people saying supposedly left-wing corporations are “worserer” than supposedly right-wing corporations. lol

          Most people I’ve known in my life have always leaned only slightly right or left of center. I’m afraid the extremes are getting more attention than they should.

        • Pavel says:

          I don’t buy from Amazon *or* Walmart. :)

          I can’t claim to be an absolute ethical purist but some actions (or boycotts) are relatively easy to take.

        • Meme Imfurst says:

          You either see it or you don’t. You don’t.

          Walmart does not follow me, track me, or solicit me, or seek patents to discover if I will pay more because of my buying history somewhere else. Amazon is, does, and will.
          Walmart does not try to be a product competitor and sell the same items as its listing customers/members. Amazon does.
          Walmart does not try to influence my politics. Amazon does
          Walmart is not on a rampage to become employee free. Amazon is.

          And, yes, I get and got better service from Walmart and ethics has nothing to do with that. Chat with an agent who fixes you problem right then and there vs a computer algorithm.
          Product defective? Amazon times you out in exactly 30 days.

          Ethics you say? That’s a strange ethical line to draw? Sorry, but your point is missed on me.

          Now lets hear it from the ones who will call me a right-winger because I don’t want to kiss Beso’s ass.

          Seems the personal attacks are growing here on Wolf. Sad.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Meme Infurst,

          I think DH was referring to the many issues surrounding Wal-Mart. These issues include that it has been one of the primary powers behind offshoring and outsourcing production from the US to cheap-labor countries, such as China, and that it has been paying its employees so little that many of them are dependent on government aid, such as food stamps and housing assistance. Thus the taxpayer is subsidizing Wal-Mart’s labor costs. These are well-documented issues.

          I didn’t read DH’s comment as a “personal attack” against you. In my opinion, DH was trying to say that neither Amazon nor Wal-Mart are angles in the way they’re doing business.

      • RR. says:

        Is there going to be a Block-Chain aqcuisition by Amazon Next???
        Maybe he could up the Anti, and instead of King, give it a shot
        at Anti-Christ, or Beast or Something all Revelations-isch.

        “Take My Groceries – Put ’em in the Sack – – No Checks No Cash
        Don’t Give Me No Flack – – –
        Its Getting Better!!! Sooo Much Better!!!

    • Pete says:

      What would have happened if Montgomery Ward’s bought A&P ?

  5. Jas says:

    Interesting concept, cashierless stores. I recently used a vending machine with similar technology. I swiped my debit card first and the glass door opened, i removed the item (whish had an electronic tag) and when i closed the door the machine inventoried what was missing. Charging me for the item I removed. I assume a similar system could be devoped by scanning the items removed from the store or something along those lines.

    • Crazy Horse says:

      Stop for a minute and try to place a value upon being able to randomly place any price you wish upon a transaction with a captive customer. In principle the Snake can extract the entire bank account balance from any sucker foolish enough to purchase a single candy bar. Do that a few million times in a single day, and let the marks try to sue you to try to get it back.

      They can always say “The Russians Did It” for starters. Using the Snake’s propaganda arm, the Washington Post as a launching pad.

  6. Cynic says:

    These developments are insane, and anti-human. One might almost call this Satanic.

    Human beings need gainful and purposeful employment /occupation, at whatever level, with regular hours and reasonably secure status, -even that of a cashier – or they go mad and fall into despair, crime, drink and drugs.

    Such a society rots, terminally – something from which the elites will be unable to protect themselves unless at the very top of the tree living in fortresses with guards.

    Those who imagine that they belong to a secure elite, a superior class, will soon find otherwise when their salary goes.

    People who think ‘How cool, what a great way to shop!’ should reflect on the banquet of consequences which is being prepared.

    • polistra says:

      Amen and amen.

      The tech-tyrants who claim that jobs can be replaced with “shared economy” and welfare are either hopelessly stupid or perfectly cynical. Mostly the latter. They know that uselessness leads to chaos and suicide. Suicide is much more energy-efficient than old fashioned direct genocide. Gaia approves.

    • Nicko2 says:

      Megacorps like Amazon will relentlessly fast track the adoption toward greater automation. —the demand for a UBI in developed (and developing) economies is coming to the fore.

      “Human beings need gainful and purposeful employment /occupation, at whatever level, with regular hours and reasonably secure status, -even that of a cashier”

      Gotta disagree. Working in an Amazon warehouse (or similar) on a zero-hour contract without healthcare or other benefits is subhuman. Up until the advent of the industrial revolution two hundred years ago, most people spend a good chunk of their time in leisure (even in relative poverty). We were never meant to toil away at menial tasks for ten hours a day.

      The pressures of increased non-participation in the ‘formal-economy’ will force political and social change (even violent revolution). Given globalization is accelerating, the pressures and changes precipitating from this transition will present opportunities as well as obstacles.

      • Nicko2 says:

        By the way, global population will rise by ~2 billion people over the next 20 years. Follow the demographic, social, and market trends, the changes coming cannot be avoided.

        • Meme Imfurst says:

          The worst thing that was even invented was chemical fertilizer, it will end humanity.

        • walter map says:

          “By the way, global population will rise by ~2 billion people over the next 20 years.”

          And at some point it will crash. Make your best guess. The human population passed the point of sustainability years ago, the systems supporting it are already buckling.

          Most people are disposable anyway. Concerns like Amazon which depend on rosy mass retail projections (it’s a bad idea to rely on phony government economic statistics) are making some very unjustifiable assumptions and are in for some rather severe disappointments.

          “Amazon . . . can lose money, no problem.”

          Until some clever analyst notices that losses are locked in, and then it is a problem.

        • Duke De Guise says:

          Going long on Soylent Green…

        • Frederick says:

          Nicko I’m really doubting that statistic about population growth Something will put an end to it for example War, economic collapse, some sort of disaster natural or man made Hey we already have the triple meltdown at Fukushima

        • Pete says:

          Population will not grow without a food supply, most of the projected growth is supposed to happen in food importing areas where labor has little to no value. Places like Greece, Italy & Chad.
          Ain’t gonna happen –

        • John M says:


          Japan has a real problem with their demographics. Has any one noticed yet that its now 27 years since the Japanese economic miracles of the 1980-1990 era that is given way to them no longer having their current offspring now no longer creating any children? The rest of the world along with Japan is slipping into a dark recessionary hole right now. With it will come less offspring just as currently the Japanese are experiencing.

          With 40% of the US unable to cover an emergency bill of $4-500.00 who in their right mind would want to start a family right now? I know if I didn’t think I was going to have secure income I’m sure I’d not want to start a family, but then I’m only speaking from personal experience.


      • Cynic says:

        I fully agree that working in warehouse, under those terms, does not come under my definition of decent and desirable basic employment.

        It was in fact the British industrialists who devised extra-long working days, up to 15 hrs – in the 1820’s in order to leave their workers so exhausted and occupied that revolution on the French model would be impossible – this back-fired in the near-revolutionary in Britain situation arrived at by the 1840’s.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          I could have never gone to college and grad school without these kinds of jobs. I could have never bought my 250cc Honda in high school without these kinds of jobs. These kinds of jobs were my lifeline.

        • DH says:

          These days, with current tuitions and wages, I could have never gone to school WITH these jobs. What does a retail job even pay for in college today? Books?

          I was making $10-$12 per hour at a sporting goods store 20 years ago. While we should rightly be criticizing Amazon for potentially removing these jobs, we must not forget that these jobs are also currently not paying enough to survive, anyways.

        • Michael Fiorillo says:

          Yes, Wolf, but in the not-so-distant-past those jobs could pay for a sizable chunk of tuition. That’s no longer the case…

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Yes, I know. I have no idea how I would manage if I were a kid today, given how outrageously expensive tuition and housing have gotten.

        • Crazy Horse says:

          There are only two student jobs that pay well enough to put yourself through college and graduate school these days. Selling drugs and prostitution.

    • californiawoman says:

      Gainful purposeful employment at Whole Foods means employees talking to each other and ignoring the customer.

      • Mary says:

        Was I standing next to you at the Pasadena Whole Foods meat department counter? It’s like a fraternity party. Older women customers? We are invisible.

    • Smingles says:

      “These developments are insane, and anti-human. One might almost call this Satanic.”

      One might call it Satanic, or one might call it “capitalism, baby!”

      “Such a society rots, terminally – something from which the elites will be unable to protect themselves unless at the very top of the tree living in fortresses with guards.”

      “The extremely sharp class conflict between the exploiters and the exploited constitutes the basic trait of the capitalist system. The development of capitalism inevitably leads to its downfall.” -Karl Marx

      In one of the grandest ironies of world history, the very same people who have lambasted socialism, Marxism, etc. etc. etc. for the last 100 or so years will have proven Marx and Engels correct in the end– they just won’t know it (because they couldn’t actually tell you anything that Marx and Engels theorized).

      “Whilst the capitalist mode of production more and more completely transforms the great majority of the population into proletarians, it creates the power which, under penalty of its own destruction, is forced to accomplish this revolution. Eventually the proletariat seizes political power…” – Freddy Engels

      From where I’m standing, we’re approaching the final innings of capitalism (in its current incarnation, at least). A few more decades of increasingly entrenched wealth inequality, of failed populist candidates… something will give.

      • polecat says:

        “Something will give” …..

        Well, it won’t be lamp posts, THAT’S for sure !

    • chip javert says:


      Undoubtedly, Luddites felt exactly the same way in the early 1800s.

    • Marta says:

      Thank you for your comment. Exactly!

  7. Blergiton says:

    Long time reader first time poster.
    Thanks for your time and effort Wolf and commenters.
    Just thinking out loud but most people have had kids or know people that have kids who have worked part time in retail (some even on the registers!) while going to university/school.
    it was even used as a selling point in an ad for woolworths here in Australia ( athletes telling us they used to work at the supermarket when they were kids..etc)
    it would be a very easy to use a similar sort of advertising campaign to try to get the mum and dad shopper do their weekly shopping at another supermarket.
    anyway I think getting rid of all checkout operators might save a bit of money and look technologically snazzy but is a terrible move PR wise and will cost them customers.

  8. Scott says:

    Amazon will have a tough time introducing variable pricing in stores as in many jurisdictions; stores are required to put prices on the products themselves or in front of them. While tech companies have tried to get around consumer protection laws before, these ones might be more difficult as states have track records of enforcing these laws.

    • MC says:

      Several French supermarkets starting from Casino have digital price tags in front of the products in the aisles, refrigerators etc. Prices can be changed directly from the headquarters in Saint-Etienne at the push of a button without store personal even knowing about it.
      Casino is rumored to use a dynamic pricing system but the details are obviously kept confidential.
      As long as the government gets its slice in taxes it just flat out doesn’t care.

      • Kent says:

        The government does not want to stand in the way of private sector innovation.

        • Duke De Guise says:

          “Innovation” is a very polite euphemism for what is in fact monopoly and rent-seeking.

    • jb says:

      good point : The variable pricing model is fraught with legal and moral issues. In some states it is illegal to base insurance rates on your credit score. It is far more pervasive than i realized . What would prevent vendors raising milk prices on a Monday, if data analytics determined the bulk of milk sales fell on that day? Also Amazon has become a huge data sponge , collecting, collating, individual info that can be packaged and sold to the highest bidder. now they will know your eating habits. this info could be sold to health insurance companies to determine your premium.
      Algos gone wild !

      • Jim Graham says:

        The variable pricing model is ALIVE AND WELL….

        Gasoline stations have it honed to a fine edge.

        You see it every time you look at a price sign at a gas station. Go to your local “” site and compare prices over a few days (or weeks).

        Watch the prices jump in unison 5 or 10 or 20 cents (or more!) and then start floating down like a feather.

        Compare prices across your market area. You will probably see pockets with gas prices lower by 10 to 20 cents than the local average!

    • TheDona says:

      if you look at the Amazon Fresh test store the pricing is all done digitally.

    • susan says:

      I never thought it would happen but I have fallen out of love with amazon.It’s just not what it used to be. I live in Hawaii and can’t always find what I want but I’ll just accept that and spend my money locally from now on at stores where the people that work there are friendly and helpful.

  9. Lee says:

    “We were never meant to toil away at menial tasks for ten hours a day. ”

    Well guess what most people in the military do…………

    Minimum wages workers as well…………..

    • doug says:

      Their choice. Great benefits also…medical, etc…

    • Smingles says:

      “Minimum wages workers as well…………..”

      Not when you count their benefits, it’s not even remotely close to minimum wage.

      The Federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour. That’s equivalent to $1,160/month (assuming 40 hours/week), or about $13,920/year.

      At E-1 (entry level enlisted), assuming no children, the monthly housing allowance for my zip code is close to $2,400/month, or about $29,000/year.

      That’s an extra $16,000 a year… in just housing benefits.

      When you factor in housing allowance, basic allowance for subsistence (close to $400/month to buy food), medical and dental, and THEN throw an actual paycheck on top of it… the average military member at even the lowest enlisted levels should be saving $1,000-2,000 a month, while the average minimum wage worker– if you assumed the same food, housing, and medical costs would be losing money, every month, without any additional benefits such as food stamps, housing assistance.

      The AVERAGE total compensation for active duty is approximately $100,000/year– about $60,000 of that is non-cash benefits.

      I’m 31… the first people in my age cohort to buy houses were almost all military who were able to save up $50k in just a few years, while everyone else was busy breaking even, or living with mom and dad to save a few hundred a month.

      • Duke De Guise says:

        And consider all the “winning” those military expenditures have provided us with: Iraq, Libya, Syria…

        Feeling safer yet?

        • Boo Randy says:

          Those thriving Jeffersonian democracies view us as liberators and deeply appreciate our sacrifice of blood and treasure.

          Oh, wait….

  10. Mike R. says:

    People are slowly starting to wake up to all this high tech nonsense. Right now, everyone is in awe at the ‘possibilities’ without thinking through the most basic downsides. Driver-less cars, for example. Or, no way to verify that the price you paid for the bottle of orange juice was correctly applied.

    We live in a weak minded country that has been fostered by cheap money that in turn fostered cheap values.

    • walter map says:

      “We live in a weak minded country that has been fostered by cheap money that in turn fostered cheap values.”

      You live in a weak-minded country because narcissism, irresponsibility, ignorance, and inability to think critically have all been systematically cultivated in order to make the general population more vulnerable, more controllable, more exploitable, and therefore more profitable, like other livestock.

      O brave new world, that has such people in ‘t! Soma, anyone?

      • John M says:


        Nice line from Huxley.. I studied that book for “A” level English..

    • robt says:

      I still add up the bill in my head as we shop (including any taxes and discounts), and watch as the items are scanned at the cash. Good mental exercise, and a good way to make sure command control has all the correct prices in the computer. Bonus: if it scans the wrong price it’s free.

    • TheDona says:

      High tech nonense? I am old and I love it. Even my 82 year old Mother banks online, orders online and loves the fact you can Google info how to troubleshoot/repair/fix things. Use what you like out of tech and ignore the hype of the rest of it….like Snapchat. ;-)

  11. Meme Imfurst says:

    ” After Whole Foods becomes part of the Amazon empire later this year, it no longer needs to make significant and growing profits. That quaint concept is out the window. Amazon is like so beyond that. It can lose money, no problem. On its own, Whole Foods could have never done that.”

    And whose fault is this? Got Amazon in your 401k, IRA, ETF?

    I look at this like ‘smoking’. You know it will kill you, yet people keep buying them by the cartons

    • Wolf Richter says:

      I was totally amazed that ANYONE was still buying AMZN at $100 a share years ago. But I’ve also warned against shorting AMZN because this market is nuts and doesn’t care about anything other than pushing prices up.

  12. rex says:

    So my understanding is that under Amazon’s new system for shopping at Whole Foods I’ll simply push my cart down the isles, filling it with various and sundry items as I go.
    When I’ve completed my shopping I’ll simply push my cart full of 30-40 small items out the door and to my car? No need to stop at the check out stand?
    Most of us- especially Whole Foods shoppers are not so poor that we cannot afford the slightly higher cost of having our groceries bagged for us.

    • RD Blakeslee says:

      Diffr’nt strokes for diffr’nt folks. Sam’s Club does not bag.

      • rex says:

        When is the last time you bought 30-40 small items at Sam’s Club?
        Like Costco, they mainly sell larger and multiple packages of products.
        Comparing Sam’s Club to a conventional grocery store seems akin to comparing apples to oranges.
        ‘Sides, although like most other folks I am conscious of prices, I am able to afford the slight up charge for service and convenience.
        When I lived in Colorado (until just last year) I shopped exclusively at King Soopers. Why? The checkers not only bagged my groceries but also unloaded those 30-40 small items from my cart, then reloaded the bagged groceries into the cart and cheerfully asked if I needed assistance to my car. All this for basically the same price as the Safeway across the street!
        It’s not all about saving a few pennies at any cost- imagine what a low class society we’d become if simple price was the only consideration in any transaction- service be damned.

        • CJ says:

          Clearly, you have never shopped at Aldi. Been bagging my own groceries for years.

        • Lovejoy says:

          My local Trader Joe’s does all that. However if you don’t bring your own bag the charge is .25 per bag.
          Like Wolf I tend to do my own bagging as it’s faster.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      I bag my own groceries wherever I go because waiting for the cashier to get around to it just slows down the process.

      And in the self-checkout lanes, you bag your own groceries anyway.

      • TJ Martin says:

        Same here . My weekly shop grocery store ( I use(d) to shop at WH once a month for my overall shop and speciality items many of which they no longer carry having replaced them with in store brands ) uses moderately handicapped individuals as baggers that are on the slow side all of whom I’ve developed personal relations with … so I work with them engaging in a bit of Tag Team bagging [ for some reason all of them love professional wrestling ] which they get an absolute kick out of … as do I

        Fact is I miss the guys and our Tag Team Bagging when they’re not around

        FYI Wolf . You worked your way thru college and grad school ? Debt free ? You must be around my age back when that was actually possible and many such as you and I could … and did .

        • Wolf Richter says:

          I was debt-free through my first Master’s. I took on debt to get my MBA, but it was a very small amount by today’s standards. While working on my MBA, I also borrowed $4,000 to buy my first computer (2 floppy drives, no hard-drive, MS-DOS, and bare-bones software). I made monthly payments for two years or so (around $100 a month for each loan), and then the remaining few thousand bucks I paid off from savings all at once when I got tired of writing checks. Back then, interest rates were much higher, so paying off debt was really a good deal.

          So education has gotten a LOT more expensive. Computers have gotten a LOT cheaper….

      • TCG says:

        I agree. There are usually not enough baggers for the checkouts and you just end up waiting an extra few minutes while the cashier bags things slowly.

        My first job in high school was bagging groceries at a local grocery store so I know how to do it quickly and without destroying or damaging any of the items (more than many checkers). I always bag my own unless a bagger is at my lane and starts bagging as things are being rung up.

    • TheDona says:

      The Amazon Fresh video showed the customers carrying their own bag on shoulder or their own bags in the cart. When you pick something up it adds to the bill…when you put it back down it subtracts from the bill. If you want to grab a drink and salad to go, it looked like an awesome idea. To do this you have to have the App and scan it when you walk in. Otherwise you will check out normally.

      This is simply for those who want to embrace this technology. They are not forcing it on you.

    • MarkinSF says:

      So I get 3 lemons, 5 apples & a bunch of bananas. Seeing that 1 of the bananas is badly bruised I put it back. I’m assuming these are all per pound but let’s say it’s just a fixed price per each item, how are they going to figure the cost of this? Not to mention veggies or single beer bottles from a 6 pack,

    • Ethan in Northern VA says:

      At Aldi you bag your own groceries. With Amazon’s system in theory you could set it in your cart in the destination bag. It really would be time saving.

      Of course, the reports are that it’s optical based and not RFID based. So if you want to save some money just binge drink and eat some snacks from boxes then put them back on the shelf before you leave the robostore.

      Or bring in some extra empty bottles and sneak em onto the shelves to throw off the inventory database.

    • John M says:


      When the idea of variable pricing comes around and gets publicly discussed & Amazon has you in Whole Foods picking your groceries with variable pricing on your Smart phone that’s when I’ll refuse to have a smart phone. Then they lose the customer.. I can be taught how to behave in such an environment.

  13. r cohn says:

    When I go into my local Stop and Shop ,I invariably use the machine checkout aisle,because there are so few human cashiers.When ever I buy produce or an item which has 2 label prices on the package, I have to call over an assistant ,usually waiting a couple of minutes for them to come.
    Amazon’s plans inevitable will encounter such snafus ,even though they may be slightly different in nature
    I shall remind everyone that if Amazon did not play accounting games with its leases and called stock grants what they are ,COMPENSATION,they would be losing money in their huge retail operations with no end in sight

  14. RD Blakeslee says:

    Some of us who use for home-delivered purchases will not use Amazon’s electronic billing, just as we do not use “smartphones”.

    How will Amazon accommodate us? They will – you can be sure.

  15. Dan Romig says:

    While I do not shop at Whole Foods, when I buy groceries, I am quite price conscious. Super Value’s Cub stores get most of my business, and they have a good price, selection and quality.

    “Variable pricing” will not work for me, and I doubt that many customers would allow this to happen where they shop. Maybe I’m old-school, but I want to know the exact price of a dozen eggs or a half-gallon of milk when I get to the check-out. I also have a shopping list that I adhere to. Meme Imfurst’s ZeroHedge link has a quote, “You passed the milk, you always get milk,” your smartphone may tell you while shopping regarding Amazon’s new patent. While I admit, my smartphone may be more intelligent than I am, I sure as hell know what I want to purchase at my grocery store.

    If Amazon implements any of this new technology, I would hope consumers would boycott it.

    • Kent says:

      Agreed this will only work if adopted by all stores. If I know what my price is at Publix but have to guess what it might be at Whole Foods, I’m going to Publix.

    • Duke De Guise says:

      Smart phones; stupid people.

      • Bee says:

        I like that!

        • Duke De Guise says:

          Thanks, but would it were not so.

          It seems the “smarter” the devices become, the more that people become unmindful vectors for marketing, political and propaganda memes.

          The signal to noise ratio just gets lower and lower, though this site and a few others are happy exceptions.

          While I often disagree with comments here, and I imagine my political/economic views are far to the Left of most readers, the overwhelming majority of them are thoughtful and informed. I assume that’s because Wolf is an assertive moderator, deleting much of the noise and trolling.

        • RD Blakeslee says:

          Me too.

    • Dan Romig says:

      A bit of sarcasm on my smartphone being more intelligent than I am, but I get a few agreement laughs when I use the line. Today’s high-end smartphones each have many thousand times the computing power NASA had in 1969 when we put men on the moon.

      • TheDona says:

        Re Smart Phone: My Mother got her first one when she was 77, eight years ago, she was so impressed she could walk around “with a computer in her hand.” Most of the elderly in my family have a smart phone and a tablet; love them and seem to work them well. Some of them occasionally need assistance from the Grandkids but it provides another reason for them to interact in person, so a win for everybody.

        • DH says:

          Yeah, just like everything else, it’s about moderation. Everyone I know, from young to old, finds the smartphone to be an essential tool, and I’d agree. The trick is not to fall down the specifically-designed rabbit holes that the phones tempt us with, and I hope I’m doing a good job teaching that to my son.

        • Michael Fiorillo says:

          Yes, but what if there’s no moderation/regulation on the supply side? What moderation is there if people are obliged to own spy phones in order to buy food?

          I don’t own a smart phone, and dread and resent the idea that I might one day be compelled to purchase one in order to buy groceries or other essential items.

  16. TJ Martin says:

    So … let the destruction begin ;

    First by eliminating a few thousand more jobs on top of the thousands already going by the wayside across the land

    Second .. should WholeAmaFoods eliminate cashiers forcing customers to pay virtually … making damn sure customers such as myself never so much as darken the doorstep of a Whole Foods ever again …. never mind buy anything

    In all honesty though … now that Bezos has his steely claws into WH that I won’t be doing so regardless .

    • TJ Martin says:

      PS; When reading about Amazon ( and Google’s ) latest acquisitions and endeavors am I the only one that feels like I’m watching a BORG episode of Star Trek ; The Next Generation ? As in ;

      ” You will be assimilated ; Resistance is futile “

  17. Kent says:

    Re: variable pricing. I don’t know if Amazon has me tagged as a high income individual (I’m not), but Amazon always seems to have the highest prices I can find on-line.

    I generally only use Amazon to find the product I want if I can’t find it locally. Then I search for it on Google and almost always find it significantly less expensive elsewhere.

    Amazon is good for finding different products, comparisons with competing products, customer feedback (taken with some skepticism) and the like. But pricing sucks.

    • TJ Martin says:

      Heres a much more sustainable and responsible capitalist strategy

      If I can’t find it locally or 1-800 with the very few mail order companies I trust and do business with … I do without . Period .

  18. Larry says:

    Whole foods caters to an elite lifestyle as much as healthy eating. There are many wealthy people who will not shop at low brow food stores. They like to be pampered and smiled at as they make their purchase. It inflates their self image. It justifies the purchase of high margin food!

    Any cost reduction will be offset by loss of foot traffic and increased competition from other more customer focused stores.

    You can get punched in the gut at any other local food store.

    Amazon is the ‘F-U pay me’ business model. This new venture will be their incursion into Russian.

    • Mark says:

      Eh, I think it’s more a form of people who value their health and their social values more highly than saving a few bucks.

      For example, things like steak or salmon shouldn’t be cheap, buy they’re made artificially so by a food industry that produces them in CAFOs or fish farms in conditions that are terrible for the animals and the environment. Meanwhile, the general population thinks of food is a commodity: that farmed salmon covered in sea lice, living in a pen eating antibiotic food pellets all its life is no different to a healthy one, wild caught in Alaska. WF or your local seafood shop help you to know where the food is coming from, consumers increasingly care about this.

    • rex says:

      I EXPECT to be “pampered and smiled at” no matter what I’m purchasing or where I’m shopping no matter what the margin is!
      I couldn’t care any less about having my self image inflated.
      If a merchant or his representatives don’t appreciate my business enough to smile and assist me I’m more that happy to shop at a competitor.

      If we consumers are willing to settle for less the business community will be happy to deliver just that.
      On the other hand if we all demand more and better the business community has no choice but to deliver that instead.

      Mediocre or excellent? Remember- as a consumer it’s YOUR choice. After all, who’s paying the bill?

    • T.J., not the real TJ says:

      My friends and I aren’t rich but do pretty well ($150k-350k/year). We like Wal-Mart and Costco. We have almost no debt between the 4 of our families; mortgage at the most.
      None of us have any desire to ever set foot in a WF. This is he first time I’ve heard that Amazon charges welfare people less for Prime than it charges me. I will never use them again unless I think I can outsmart them. My friends will feel the same way.
      I know we are a little unusual, but Can Amazon do this to people and survive? Who would continue to support them?

      • TheDona says:

        TJ – Prime also charges less for Students. I have no qualms over them charging less for EBT folk. At least they can get things cheaper which in the long run provides them more bang to them for “our taxpayer” buck. See my previous comment regarding Grocery stores (in poor areas) charging them more for WIC approved items (Women,Infant, Children Nutritional services). In areas not served by multiple grocery stores, or when the poor have no 2nd car and rely on bus lines….having the cheapest item delivered seems to be ideal. I think this business model is going to level the playing field on multiples levels. In fact the algos charging them less is going to keep EBT gouging to a minimum and give them real options instead of buying McDonalds or convenience store products.

      • chip javert says:


        Nice rant.

        However, just about the other 319,999,999 USA citizens appear to disagree (and strongly). An estimated 46% (70%+ of affluent) USA households are prime members (up 35% in a year).

        Additionally, tens of millions of Americans shop at Amazon without Prime membership (it’s estimated 244M Americans shop at AMZN in a given year – not total purchases, but total unique purchasers).

        You’re certainly free to not shop there, but you’re foolish to think you’re leading a huge movement away from Amazon.

  19. oldbat says:

    get ccleaner and run it to clean out your cookies before you shop online. then clean again before returning to a site. that will help with pricing. not sure about at amazon.

    • TheDona says:

      oldbat – Thanks for the good idea about cleaning the cookies out. I wonder if that can work in reverse too…if Amazon algo sees you price comparing on other sites they will lower their price?
      Regarding Amazon pricing: my daughter noticed that if she kept an item in her cart for a while, the price came down.

      Amazon is just another tool to use as you wish.

      Regarding price surging from previous comments: That already exists and has for a long time in a lot of businesses. My pool company from one house to another charged an extra $100 for monthly due to the new zip code. Albertsons used to have a low income store called Max (name could be wrong) that charged at least 2-2 1/2 more for WIC APPROVED, on huge signs, above milk, cheese, etc. My Albertson charged 1.99 for a gallon of milk but the Max price for WIC was 4.25 in the poor part of town – because they could get away with it.
      There are some restaurants that have different pricing depending on where they are located. So no, not all pricing is equal for everyone. Sometimes it works in your favor and sometimes not. It seems at least that Amazon levels the playing field somewhat.

      • chip javert says:


        I’m an old (businessman) goat & have been the victim of “variable pricing” throughout the economy for over 50 years. The fact that some are only now discovering AMZN can do/does this, and consider it unique, new & dangerous, thus driving them to self-confessed ethical outrage, is hilarious.

        Horrific examples of financial abuse inflicted upon me at some time in the last 50 years:

        – 10% off if I bought a case of wine
        – cheaper gas about 1 mile off the interstate highway
        – bought 3 tires & they gave me a 4th
        – frequent flyer points to get (gasp!) free flights
        – airline flights are usually cheaper on Tue than Mon or Fri
        – reduced rental car rate for weekly (not daily) rental
        – us old retired folks eat cheaper at 5P than “regular folks” at 6p
        – if you know about Happy Hour, drinks are cheaper
        – A 2-year WSJ subscription is cheaper per day than a 1-year subscription
        – a cable bundle is cheaper than buying all 3 services individually
        – a cell phone contract is usually less than a pre-paid phone

        Just for the record, it does appear that EVERYBODY is charged exactly the same for a loaf of bread in Venezuela (they just don’t have any bread); back in the good ‘ole USSR, they had exactly the same problem.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Chip, the items you mention are “discounts,” “sale” prices, or just basic price structures, not “variable pricing” the way it is used online. “Variable pricing” means that different people looking that the same item (and same quantity) at the same time and see different prices without knowing about the price differences. If they clear the cookies on their laptops and go online at a cafe (to get a different IP address), the price is different again. “Variable pricing” is driven by algorithms and Big Data. The changes are dramatic and instantaneous. And the shopper has no idea. There are apps that track and chart the variable prices for particular items of your choice on Amazon. An amazing sight to see.

          It’s not just Amazon. Airlines and other online vendors have also been playing this game for years as well.

        • chip javert says:

          I understand that, Wolf.

          Without intending to be argumentative, at a macro level, I simply see different sets of buyers getting charged variable prices depending upon the circumstances of how they buy (it’s what you do, not how you do it).

          As AMZN matures, they may get into the game of recognizing & giving frequent customers discounts (in effect, with “free Prime shipping”, they already do).

    • Pavel says:

      Not sure if this is only for the Mac (may be) but I use a Chrome-based browser called Epic. It automatically does everything in private mode and flushes all the cookies & trackers whenever you quit.

      (I use other browsers for sites where I want the cookies etc like banking and airlines.)

    • Jerry Bear says:

      I also recommend using Duck Duck Go as your search engine. They never track their users or store or share personal information.

  20. Gotta LOVE America’s race to the bottom: Whole Foods becomes ‘Dollar Central’ who would have guessed.

    Most of the remaining employees in ‘DCentral’ stores will be security goons looking to ‘take down’ anyone walking out of the store w/o paying (lacking an Amazon account). Look for lots of false arrests, fights and ‘incidents’ (gunning down of customers w/ .40 Cal Smith & Wessons by security).

    Look also for cheap, Chinese-produced ‘poison dog food’ in all infinite varieties. Also look for more toxic substances/contamination, animal abuses, slave labor complaints/lawsuits and a general shift of customers from upscale shoppers looking for gourmet items to Snap recipients stocking up on Coke & Pepsi = race to the bottom.

    Amazon = Sears.

    • chip javert says:

      Steve from Virginia

      Race to the bottom?

      How often do you get away from home (e.g.: India, Mexico, southern Italy, Greece, most of eastern Europe, Russia, almost anywhere in Asia except Singapore, Hong Kong and coastal China, Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Indonesia, almost anywhere in Africa…).

  21. DK says:

    The algo for ‘variable pricing’ will probably spawn counter algo’s. I have an Amazon prime account as well as some other people I know. We tend to have price changes depending on our buying behavior. It seems like Amazon changes it up from time to time as well. Behavioral Psychology is probably at the core of this. It’s almost a kind of game.

  22. dave says:

    Should have a smart cart. Walmart . Cashiers don’t scan every item. They scan cart and this would speed up cashiers.

  23. GSH says:

    These cashier-less stores will be a big hit with homeless in downtown areas.

  24. Bee says:

    Told y’all there ain’t nothin’ special [premier, prestigious] ’bout Amazon or Whole Foods!!! hahaha

  25. jb says:

    On a more sanguine note: This incursion into the us grocery market by various sources will result in food deflation. Might impede The feds inflation targets .

  26. Bee says:

    Amazon sure is getting a whole lot of free publicity the past few days!!!

  27. Kasadour says:

    Whole Foods was not going to survive no matter what. But I hate the thought of Bezos taking it over. I hope wal-Mart makes an offer and under-cuts this insanity. I, for one, won’t play along.

  28. Rumplestiltskin says:

    This is priceless, (no pun intended). Whole Foods marketed its business to the upper middle class, and charged accordingly. In actuality their food was no better or worse than two other stores within four blocks of our store. They put high priced crap on their shelves and were promptly sold to those upper middle class idiots who had disposable income to throw away.

    And now it comes down to this; Once they have you hooked you are their baby and are the “Blue Sky Assests” Amazon counts on to continue shipping there.

    Are you going to continue shopping there now that you know that are going to put cheap stuff on the shelves, but more than likely not lower the price by much. Remember they not only have you hook on the location where you buy your food, but on the company’s name as well.

    In other words, you have been bought and sold by the investors of those two corporations. How do you like being a slave my friends.

  29. spice says:

    well sounds like i will stop using amazon, whole foods has crap produce anyway. the worst and most expensive organic foods and all their products are made in a factory and sent in plastic bags that “made” in the deli. all bread is made and shipped from austin. wholes foods has sold out and there products were good 15 years ago, now its just another deception using gmo’s and round up,

  30. IdahoPotato says:

    Meanwhile farmer’s markets with organic produce are getting more numerous. You actually get to talk to the people who grew your food and packed it just that morning.

    I don’t see a reason to frequent Whole Paycheck at all – with or without Amazon. I’d rather get organic grapes from the guy down the street than from Chile.

    I found a supplier of oats at Amazon from Illinois. I look up the guy, called him up and ordered several more things directly from his farm.

    Some of us actually like interacting with real humans.

    • jo6pac says:

      Yes, that how I use amazon find the product and buy from the owners.

      • TheDona says:

        Yeah California produces grapes (among a multitude of fruits and vegetables) but what about the rest of the farmers markets across the country? There are actually very few products grown in ones local area outside of California (a lot of states are too hot for more than first harvest, too cold for more than late harvest, too much sun, not enough sun, too much rain, too little rain, etc., to actually grow these products for a full season). For most farmers markets, products are brought in and put in cute little baskets to make people feel better about (falsely) supporting the local economy.

        • RD Blakeslee says:


          That’s not true where I live (small town, Eastern WV).

          Local produce is available in abundance here.

          Do you, per chance, live in or near a large city?

        • TheDona says:

          Hi RD. I live in between Dallas and Ft Worth. It gets too hot too early here to support much by the end of June. The big growers have acres of shaded greenhouses with misted cooling systems and fans. I do not believe for a second they only serve the local Dallas/Ft Worth farmers markets. They are also providing to local Whole Foods and HEB markets. So most of the local farmers market people are buying from the same grocery store suppliers. The small farms who specialize in certain things are only at the farmers markets for a limited time. I visited Door County, Wisconsin one summer and was amazed at all the great fruit (the variety of Cherries was staggering) and vegetables…most of it is consumed locally and does not leave the state. The climate was perfect there in the summer. What do you think they can grow in AZ or NM? What can grow locally is climate driven unless done by large commercial growers. Now meat on the other hand….we have the organic grass fed small farms including Wagyu beef.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Texas peaches fresh from the farm? To die for!! Peach cobbler made with those peaches? Don’t even remind me….

          But I get your point about a lot of produce, such as lettuce, etc.

        • TheDona says:

          Personally I am a blackberry cobbler fan. My favorite desert. Still lots brambles around to pick your own in the oddest of places.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          I’m certainly not going to argue about blackberry cobbler. A big-fat scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Now we’re talking. I might have to swim a couple of miles in the cold Bay to work it off, but it’s worth it.

          You know, this whole dialogue started me thinking: I don’t think I have seen ANY cobbler at a restaurant here (SF).

          If any of you local readers know where to get cobbler in San Francisco, please let me know.

        • IdahoPotato says:

          I live in Podunkville Idaho and the farmer’s markets here are far superior to the ones I visited in the Bay Area.

          Many of the farmers here are friends and neighbours. Most do not have the organic certification, but I believe those who say they don’t use sprays and pesticides as I often visit their CSAs.

          And we only buy local milk in glass bottles. Not certified organic, but excellent quality from free range cows. The way it used to be.

        • IdahoPotato says:

          Wolf, here you go.

          We have a blackberry bush and two peach trees in our backyard. One year we got 300 pounds of organic peaches. We let the birds eat some and donate the rest to the homeless shelter. The blackberry bush just does its thing and is very profuse with the fruit.

  31. Bee says:

    Bezos the bald bozo “$4 billion away from overtaking Bill Gates in becoming the richest man in the world”.
    Source: DailyMail, today.

    • chip javert says:


      Other than demonstrating complete mastery of ad hominems, what’s your point?

  32. Lotz says:

    So entertaining to see how $15 min wage which started in Seattle is playing out. I don’t really use whole food, the environment is a bit too pretend for my taste.

    Looking at the patent you realize that blocking wireless/phone signals are illegal in the US. If you read the patent application it requires the user to be on their Wi-Fi in order to intercept. Google searches are HTTPS encrypted anyway.

  33. unit472 says:

    Low income shoppers? I avoid stores that cater to that crowd and I am not alone. It is why ‘food deserts’ exist. Its not just shoplifting in the store, it is the need for security in the parking lots, derelicts begging and the overall distasteful experience of being around the underclass.

    Fortunately, Whole Foods does not have stores in low income locations and if Amazon wants to avoid the whole “People of Walmart’ syndrome they will keep it that way.

    • Gamma says:

      Yep, you were Whole Foods prized demographic. Good luck fighting it out with the Plebes in Ralphs!

  34. Andy says:

    A bit off topic, but I am presently in United’s concourse C at Newark where all the restaurants are set up with ipods for ordering food. We are on the road to ruin with no future jobs. The staff I talked to are aware that their jobs will eventually go when the robots do the cooking.

    • Kent says:

      I was at a local restaurant yesterday have lunch and a couple of beers with friends. Place was packed and had only one waitress working. When she actually got around to our table, I told her there would be an extra tip if she got us our food and drinks before everyone else. Had lunch and a pitcher of beer withing 10 minutes.

      An iPad can’t do that.

  35. JB says:

    Amazon would let Walmart buy Whole Foods if it made an offer. Amazon could purchase Safeway or Albertson’s. Amazon has options.

    • TheDona says:

      JB – Albertson’s and Safeway merged 2015. Their debt is staggering. WF has it’s own supply sources and yes they do make their own premade products in central “local” kitchens, but with less crap/preservatives.. Better than from the same few manufacturers/suppliers that supply the same sh*it to the other grocery stores. I watch the recall lists and if spinach is tainted from one grower then the fall out to hundreds of grocery stores and restaurants “special” salad mixes, dips, dinners, sides, is astounding.

      Amazon wants the supply chain, the local kitchens, with all of the logistics provided. Seems like a good match to me.

      Not quite sure what all the hate is for Amazon. Freedom of choice.

      On another note….Walmart bought Modcloth, which is a super cool younger womans clothing specialty website. Unusual, great fabrics…my daughter gets most of her clothes from there. (She was bummed to hear Walmart bought them out). They recently bought up Bonobos as well. Site for younger men for more closely fitting and upscale clothing.

      These times they be a changin.

  36. Gershon says:

    The race to the bottom continues on our neo-fuedal plantation. Embrace your serfdom, proles of the 99%.

  37. Matt says:

    How you manage the system that controls your inventory is key to keeping costs down. That’s why Walmart beats Amazon on price almost every time. Throw Costco in there as well. Amazon knows how to ship to your door better than anyone else and that has been it big saving grace.

    • Bee says:

      Your last line is way off. I order from and they usually ship same-day and it’s delivered to my door in usually 2 days (the fastest orders ever; its parent Walmart is next closest in speed). Amazon has never once gotten anything to me in 2 days—EVER!

      • DH says:

        I’m assuming he meant with Amazon Prime. It rarely takes anything longer than two days to get to me with Amazon Prime. It often only takes one day.

        • Bee says:

          That might be, but I’ve gotten free trials of Prime and it’s the same time-frame (they take FOREVER to ship it out). I don’t live in CA so I expect a bit longer wait times, but they really aren’t good at all, considering what an “AMAZING!!!” company AMZN is. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten an order from Amazon in under 5 days. Jet, on the other hand, two days—it’s simply amazing! And you don’t need to pay a “privilege fee” of $99 a year (a big LOL to that!). I grimace when people say they spend $99 a year for Amazon’s “FREE SHIPPING!!!!!!!!!” — dupes.

        • IdahoPotato says:

          I used to have Prime.

 takes two days without the extra fees. When I order regular on Amazon, it takes 10-12 days. But Amazon has much wider choice.

          If I find the same item on Ebay, it reaches me in half the time it takes on Amazon.

        • chip javert says:


          My annual AMZN spend is about $3,500 (75 or so packages); I live in central east coast of Fl (not CA or downtown Manhattan), and my Prime deliveries take 1-2 days (they also deliver on Sunday). AMZN pantry items take longer.

      • Smingles says:

        “Amazon has never once gotten anything to me in 2 days—EVER!”

        “I don’t live in CA so I expect a bit longer wait times, but they really aren’t good at all, considering what an “AMAZING!!!” company AMZN is. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten an order from Amazon in under 5 days. Jet, on the other hand, two days—it’s simply amazing!”

        Here’s me doing a giant eye roll. You’re lying. What does living in CA have to do with anything? Amazon has over 70 fulfillment centers nationwide.

        I’ve ordered literally hundreds of items off Prime, and one– ONE– item was not received on time during a winter storm. And yet from all of your Amazon orders you never received one in less than 5 days?

        Again, you’re a liar, and a bad one at that. At least try to make your fairy tales believable in the future.

        • Bee says:

          After I typed it, I knew someone would take misinterpret my “not in CA” comment (no edit feature here). I simply meant I wasn’t somewhere insanely populous.
          Because you don’t believe what I type doesn’t make me a liar. That’s your issue. Are there any other comments here that insinuate I’m a ludicrous liar? Please indicate such.
          Everything I typed was true. I have NEVER gotten an order in under 5 days (and when I had Prime trials [they offer ~once a year {on one right now!}] it actually was no faster).
          Your disbelief in reality does not equate to me being a liar. Get a grip.
          Again, I get Jet orders in 2 days—NEVER ONCE has that happened with AMZN (I’ve been with them since the BEGINNING when they only sold books).

        • Wolf Richter says:

          If you order from Amazon as non-Prime member and want free delivery it can take a few “business days.” Free means it’s the slowest, cheapest method. I think it says something like, “allow five business days.” So if this involves a weekend, it could take five days or longer even under good conditions.

  38. Guido says:

    IMO, amazon is targeting penny wise pound foolish customers. The prudent type will still shop around for deals. If amazon gives deals on some items, so will competiton on others. They all make money not on loss leaders but on items that one assumes are cheap. For people that are careful, amazon is there for the taking and they should since we are all subsidizing it through our savings, i.e., our future.

    For those who feel or are genuinely rich, there is always amazon. The wannabe will be the loser but hey, a fool and his money are soon parted.

    • RD Blakeslee says:


      Actually, is cost effective for me.

      I have to drive quite a way to shop at bricks and mortar and Amazons savings in transportation and time is not “penny wise and pound foolish”.

      • Guido says:

        But, of course. The time value of money is the driver here for those who are couponing vs those who can afford.

        Then, there is the segment that values its time more than it should. It is just the way we segment ourselves and choose the vendors who cater to that segment. These are whom I labeled wanna bes.

        What all retailers are banking on is the customer giving up on cost. They do this by overwhelming the buyer at which point, the buyer just gives up. Throw in variable pricing into the mix and tracking these savings will be even more difficult. The penny wise pound foolish is intended for those who are overwhelmed.

        • chip javert says:


          Through eons of people selling stuff to other people, 3 basic things drive a sale: price, quality, convenience.

          People with different incomes or different time constraints frequently value quality and/or convenience higher than simply lowest price.

          Nothing “wanna be” about that – some people optimize “price” considering more than just $ cost.

    • ML says:

      Shopping around for deals is a form of greed.

  39. Guido says:

    Read your comments and now I am too scared to leave home. ?

  40. Roman T. says:

    Amazon is a crime-syndicate. I have direct experience. Have you checked shipping prices lately for us law abiding citizens? They have gone way up. So free shipping is a red flag. Who is subsidizing that?

    But the thing I don’t understand is why groceries? I thought profit margins were very small, ~1-2%. Is it just the volume that they are trying to tap into and reduce the salaries to make that number go higher? Is it due to tax laws and perishables?

    Many questions without the “real” answers since anything goes now. The elephant in the room is a politically managed economy propped up by high freq. trading and our private banking masters.

    Herr Richter please consider a different commenting system here. Maybe’s can be used (or used for inspiration).

    • chip javert says:

      Who is subsidizing that? – you is. You really thought you were getting free shipping? Words for you to live by: (if you go to a sheep shearing and you don’t see any sheep, YOU ARE THE SHEEP).

      Herr Richter?

  41. raxadian says:

    In most countries welfare is limited or doesn’t exist. And nowadays in the US is impossible for a person to live only of welfare, it has been cut do much I am not sure it even covers all the food you need for a month.

    Lack of a work that at least covers the minimum, lead to people resorting to crime. The gig economy is not a replacement of a real job unless you aleady are a Jack of all trades for a living. And even then you are better leaving your cell phone number so they can call you without using an app. Even if that might break the app terms of use.

    And I know this might be shocking to hear but to many people in the world, losing their jobs is terrible. If they are past a certain age no one wants to hire them. Then lack skills that those hiring are asking just to reject old people. For example I have heard of needing to have completed High school to be a trash collector. Or asking to know two languages or more in minimun wage jobs were they might never use the skill.

    Oh and let’s not let me get started with student loans.

    Funny enough an old adults cartoon basically predicted the Gig economy. It had the protagonist swiching jobs all the time to be able to pay his student loan. And all the same time he used those jobs to help to write his thesis and or a book.

    • chip javert says:

      And yet almost everybody in USA has cell phones, car, stove, microwave, TV & cable, tattoos, Nike Air Jordans, refrigerator, indoor plumbing, etc, etc.

      People make decisions. You might not like their decisions, and they might not like the consequences of some of their their decisions (good example: student loans), but free people get to make even stupid decisions.

      • Duke De Guise says:

        Gotcha, people make “decisions,” such as facing the “choice” of a lifetime of precarious, low wage labor with a high school diploma, or a chance to escape that with huge amounts of debt.

        That’s quite a “choice:” a lifetime of relative declining wages – check the stats over the past forty years – with a high school diploma, or stagnant wages with a college degree and debt.

        You Glibertarians have a funny idea of what real choice and freedom are.

        • chip javert says:

          Duke De Guise

          I’m not the one making or defining the decisions – each individual is. I don’t agree with some the decisions, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to impose my values and force them to do something else.

          I volunteer in a church food bank that opens for 1 hour a week and feeds 40-50 families. About 40% of our “customers” are obviously high on drugs (strangely, drunk on alcohol is fairly low). We require they have a SSN and zipcode, and we ask family composition so we know what food to give them. Almost all have one or more little (<5 yrs old) children.

          They literally prioritize buying drugs before they buy their children food – that is heartbreaking and it is not uncommon at any of the church food banks in the area.

          As a church, there is no way we will refuse them (actually, their children) food, but it sure make me feel like I'm seriously enabling bad behavior.

          So Duke, what is your definition of freedom? People get to do exactly what you want? Or don't get to do what you don't want? I'm interested in your response.

        • raxadian says:

          You are a tad of out if date, the hightlight of “The New ’10s” (2010-2020) jobs is a lot of people with university degrees having crap jobs to pay their students loans.

          “More adults, particularly college-educated young adults, are now working in retail jobs than teenagers for whom those positions are traditionally associated with. The average age among fast-food workers is 29.” Tv Tropes

        • chip javert says:


          A lot of these “newly credentialed” but indebted graduates also have crap degrees (both in subject matter and rigor in which they were earned) and no knowledge/desire of how to deliver value-add to an employer (non-governmental employers don’t give participation trophies).

          The vast majority of this cohort is old enough to have voted (in overwhelming majorities) for the very politicians who produced the current economy. Elections have consequences.

        • Duke De Guise says:

          More Glibertarian evasions, since you seem fine with berating people for making choiceless choices.

          You also seem fine with using logical fallacies in your arguments, making the false analogy between college grads and homeless food pantry recipients

          My definition of freedom is for people to have the opportunity to make choices without the Overclass putting a gun to their heads, via monopoly, rent seeking and privatization of public goods, and then blaming them for consequences that in the aggregate are predictable

          You seem to be ok with that, however.

        • chip javert says:

          Duke de Guise

          (a) Unlike you accusation, I have not berated anybody for making a choice

          (b) Unlike your accusation, I have not equated college graduates and homeless food pantry recipients (you said they were homeless, not me; in fact, none are homeless, just needy)

          (c) Your definition of “freedom” is magnificent but pie-in-the-sky “aspirational” at best. So until you change the human nature of the 8,000,000,000 people on the planet, people need to make real decisions in the real world – they can’t wait for you.

          (d) Unlike you accusation, I never indicated I agreed with any of the litany of stuff you include in “that”.

          You do a good job raving about your strawman accusations, but unfortunately, I never said any of it.

          Do you have any response to what I did say?

    • Grump says:

      $10/hr jobs are everywhere inmy town. Rent in a 1br is right at $400. That leaves 3 weeks of salary for other stuff. Ditch your phone, ride a bike, don’t smoke, cook your food and quit living like you make $100K. Cell phones are for closers.

  42. Maximus Minimus says:

    I think, you haven’t figured it out, yet. There will be no layoffs: all cashier will be moved to Amazon whorehouses ba(e)gging (for) food.

  43. Zi Zi Searles says:

    Amazon is going f$*% up Whole Foods. I feel sad about this. It is a decent grocery that provides low skill jobs in the community. Maybe the tech novelety will drive business. Anyways I’m a long time whole paycheck shopper and will miss the product and customer experience once it goes Star Trek and hyper competitive. RIP Whole Foods.

  44. r cohn says:

    When I check prices on at Amazon,they can not compete(pricewise) on paper goods , with my local supermarket
    I go into my local Whole foods for 3 prime reasons
    High quality produce.
    It is the ONLY store in my area with seasonable wild strawberries and has the best prices on heirloom tomatoes .Last week they had the best prices on organic strawberries among all markets.
    Only Fairway exceeds Whole Foods cheeses dept.Admittedly their prices ain’t cheap,but I often found specials on some of my favorites
    Sometimes their fish is exceedingly expensive ,so I avoid buying it.
    But most of the time the quality of their fish is worth a little more .

    If NEVER go to the local Walmart ,which specializes in cheap frozen and boxed foods.If the new Whole Foods follows that model,they will lose all of my business and that of other affluent shoppers

    The challenge for Amazon in perisable food is completely different from goods which can be stored for long periods without any deterioration.
    I like to smell my tomotoes,strawberries and canteloupes,like to test the pineapples for ripeness.

  45. Markar says:

    Someone told me you can beat Amazon at their own game. Go to check out on an item you want, close out and go to or another competing site with usually lower prices and do the same. Go back to Amazon and find the new lower price on the same item.

  46. oscar p says:

    Early Amazon user but as it has become the true giant squid devouring everything have tried to back away and looked for alternatives. Because amazon is so convenient has been difficult but possible. Amazon is so intrusive into so many areas from news to soap that if we don’t help competition we won’t have any (since government doesn’t have teddy Roosevelt).

    Canceled Prime, use Costco more, ebay, trader Joes, and the amazingly cheap Asian and other local markets. Been a hoot and much more personal.

    If stores start tracking me the smartphone stays home and if they decide to use rfid embedded clothes I won’t wear much except sunglasses and gloves to prevent biometric capture.

  47. Ambrose Bierce says:

    i assume variable pricing according to user input refers to metadata, and not individual variable pricing?

      • Ambrose Bierce says:

        isn’t that against the law, charging different customers different prices?

        • Hal says:

          Not the last time I visited the local ER.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          It’s actually very common. There are many markets where prices are negotiated and everyone pays a different amount, not just the stuff you buy at flea markets, but also big-ticket items such as homes and autos. It also includes services like credit, including credit cards (interest rate varies and is often negotiable … as in auto loans). Brick and mortar retailers have to post prices, but that may not be the price you pay… you may pay less. What is illegal is charging more than the posted price. And online they also post prices, it’s just that the price you see is different from the price someone else saw yesterday, or even sees at the same moment. Airlines have been doing this for years, in very sophisticated ways, to counter the price comparisons that the internet makes so easy.

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