Hard times are ahead. Inflation is all around you, and has been an ongoing thing since the dollar peak of 2000. Just look at ice cream, bleach and other household products that maintained their price while shrinking their product size. Reese's peanut butter cups are smaller now. Miracle Whip went from a rich, thick spread to the watery jiggly jar of crap because they could not push raw material cost increases onto their customers. Pushing price increases is one thing, overhauling product amount is another. Preparing for decline takes all forms, and large corporate moves are no different. Whole Foods is now preparing for the future by contemplating a Millenial freindly, more flexible and cheaper chain of stores.
This is framed in a fun way to meet the needs of those cool Millenials, but planning a chain of stores around this concept of "cheaper and flexible" is a huge investment with long term vision. People mocked Whole Foods as Whole Paycheck due to its high costs, but Whole Foods built a market. If you look at the chart for Whole Foods (WFM), they built an incredibly successful company that rode the organic wave to success. Like Apple and the latest tech gadgetry, they also pitched the idea of being part of the cool, enlightened crowd by shopping there. Whole Foods was selling overpriced organic food, but the brand came with some cache for that SWPL crowd and upper middle class crowd. Middle class strivers would then duplicate them to make sure they were keeping up and enlightened.
How many of their customers bought their entire grocery checklist at Whole Foods? Whole Foods knows. They have the data on their customer base. What they may also know is that hard economic times are ahead for the future SWPLs of America and the striver middle class that added heft to their bottom line may evaporate entirely. Student loans take a bite out of one's budget, and the pricey asiago might be the first to go. A Whole Foods shopper is not just some hip 21 year old. You will see a wide range of ages there, but the bumper stickers on the cars will usually be 2O12 or OFA. A little deeper into this is that Whole Foods might be looking at graduating classes and percentages of births each year. They see many more minorities who don't give a shit about status signaling with their cheese and beef purchases. SWPLs are not having kids, too, so this slim chain might be preparing for a smaller market.
Twilight in America has its markers. Peak SWPL probably passed, and we just need to mark the exact date. Gentrified neighborhoods not absolving them from roving riot gangs in Baltimore should signify to them that the delusion is over in America. Millenials are not having kids, and college enrollment is down, so where are those future Whole Foods customers going to come from? Whole Foods can have a lock on a status marker, but what happens when there is no one left who wants and values said marker? Whole Foods can get slim and smaller starting now rather than being a chain of gigantic and seldom busy caves of conspicuous environmentalism. Sorry Whole Foods, but I'll pass. It's not that I don't appreciate organic produce and agricultural craftsmanship. It's that I only get my organic stuff from Amish farmers at the local farmer's market.