Over the next two months, Whole Foods will eliminate 1.6 percent of its workforce, or 1,500 employees, according to a statement released by the company this morning. The layoffs will allegedly be made to allow the supermarket giant to cut prices and improve technology in stores.
Why does Whole Foods feel the need to slash prices in order to keep its customer? According to the Wall Street Journal, the company has “faced intensified competition over the past several years” as supermarket chains from Kroger to Walmart begin to stock “natural” and “organic” foods, and rivals like Sprouts market entice shoppers with similar products at lower prices.
NYC Whole Foods stores have received more than 800 violations of overcharging customers during 107 separate inspections since 2010, totaling more than $58,000 in fines. And then there’s that time Whole Foods charged $6 for a bottle of water with a few asparagus spears floating in it. Maybe after the company cuts a fraction of its workforce, the chain will stop feeling the need to rip people off—but we can only speculate.
Whole Foods isn’t trying to leave its laid-off employees in a bind, though, at least according to Walter Robb, co-CEO of the grocery chain. Robb says, “We are committed to treating affected Team Members in a caring and respectful manner. We have offered them several options including transition pay, a generous severance, or the opportunity to apply for other jobs. In addition, we will pay these Team Members in full over the next eight weeks as they decide which option to choose.”
The company did not specify which technologies Whole Foods would be further investing in, but we’re guessing it’s not too long before self checkout stations hit your favorite organic goliath. We’re just hoping the machines won’t be able to tell the difference between pine nuts and pinto beans from the self-serve bins when we switch up the prices.