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Walmart, Target show strength of food

walmart grocery pickup
Walmart is using pop culture “cars” to promote its grocery pickup, a move many retail observers say will help drive home big gains in e-commerce this quarter.

Right now, I bet Kohls wishes it had made a bigger deal with Aldi than it did with Planet Fitness.

When remodeling started at the Kohl’s department store near my house, I watched with bated breath, hoping it would be one of the Aldi collaboration pilot stores. It was a great location with lots of new homes, specifically new apartments, under construction.

produce with pamelaAlas, instead of getting the Austin, TX area’s second Aldi location, we got a Planet Fitness.

Womp. Womp.

And as we’re rounding the corner to the sixth month of the COVID-19 pandemic with many consumers locked down at home (now with bonus virtual school!), Walmart and Target are booming and J.C. Penney, Kohls, and Stein Mart – stores with no food – are suffering.

On Tuesday, Target posted record same-store sales, including a whopping 700% increase in curbside pickup. Earlier this week, Walmart shocked analysts with its second quarter earnings report, which included nearly double e-commerce sales.

The Bentonville, AR-based retailer is now beating Amazon in online grocery, according to a new study by Tabs Analytics.

And the company continues to push ahead in online grocery advancements.

John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart US said during the company’s third quarter earnings report it is piloting several types of technology to streamline the online grocery process.

“We’ve got a store in New Hampshire with a system called Alert that does our grocery picking and has this with everything right up to dispensing,” he said. “We’ll be expanding that pilot into Texas over the next few months.”

Walmart also is adding an Amazon Prime-like delivery subscription service.

The combination of grocery with general merchandise has proven a winner for Target and Walmart, though traditional grocery stores are definitely benefiting from strong sales, particularly online.

The latest in a 6-part series COVID-19 and Navigating the Path Ahead from IRI Worldwide shows huge increases in online grocery.

While Kroger gets a lot of press for its e-commerce deal with Ocado, we’ve yet to see how the two will work together as the first facility isn’t expected to open until 2021.

Sobeys, on the other hand, surged ahead with its Ocado-powered e-commerce, expanding Voilà by Sobeys into the greater Toronto area in June.

Grocers will continue to do well, whether in-store or online. Consumers can stream a workout, work at home, and wear pajamas all day, but they still have to buy food.


Pamela Riemenschneider is the Retail Editor for Blue Book Services.