For fiscal year 2014, WF now expects sales growth of 11% to 13%, comparable store sales growth of 5.5% to 7%, identical store sales growth of 5% to 6.5%. John Mackey tried to diffuse the disappointment in the “reset” expectations, which were 1% lower than previous forecasts.
“Yes, food retailing is more competitive than ever and with the growing demand for fresh healthy foods, it seems like everyone is adding to or expanding their offering of natural and organic products. However, we believe the strength of these numbers highlights our ability to innovate and to compete the unique power of our brand and the excitement our stores create within this community. With 47 new leases signed over the last 12 months, we have 94 stores in our development pipeline and see demand for 1,000 Whole Foods market stores in the United States alone,” he said.
Just as some folks would never think to go in an Aldi, others may not think that Whole Foods is for them. As competitors like Sprouts and The Fresh Market start to nibble at their core customers, the rising number of Whole Food stores will force the chain to compete for the middle of the consumer market, despite the limp economy. That effort to increase their customer base may increase pressure on organic suppliers to lower prices and could open up opportunities for greater sales of conventional produce at Whole Foods.