In January, we published the main findings from the 2017 – 39th Annual Retailer Survey by WholeFoods Magazine. Hundreds of independent natural products retailers from across the U.S. participated, representing $1.59 billion in sales and over 2.5 million square feet of retail space. It was by far the largest response in our 39-year history of conducting the survey.

Here, we present more in-depth information from the survey that we did not report in January, including dollar and percentage sales by department. Online, you may refer back to the findings we reported in January, including store size, inventory value, and detailed expenses including labor, marketing, and rent.

How to use these tablesIn order to get the most out of the data, first, you must total up your fresh-foods sales from all departments. This includes anything requiring refrigeration or cooking in-store, such as fresh prepared foods, juice and coffee bar, bakery, fresh produce, meat and fish, and dairy and frozen foods.

Once you have your total perishables sales from all departments, divide this total by your overall store sales. Based on your total percentage of perishables sales to overall store sales, your store will fall into one of the five categories, or quintiles, from 0% to 46% or more perishables (please see the following tables below). Each quintile represents about 20% of stores in the survey.

In Table 1, we have total perishables sales from all fresh-foods departments as a percent of overall store sales. As you can see, stores that sell the least amount of perishables, from 1% to 9% of overall sales, average just $58,370 from all fresh-foods departments combined. Contrast this with large fresh-food oriented stores, with 46% or more from all perishables departments. These stores generate $7 million in sales from fresh foods, equal to 60.4% of their total sales.

In stores with the highest total perishables percentage; 46% or more, prepared foods departments dominate (please see Table 2), with an average of $2.59 million and 22.31% of sales. For stores that sell 34% to 45% total perishables, the fresh produce department tends to be larger than the prepared foods department, with $1.12 million in sales compared to $913,906, respectively.

For the largest perishables stores, the packaged refrigerated foods department is a million-dollar department, delivering, $1.49 million, or 12.87% in sales. For Quintile 4, the 34% to 45% perishables group, packaged refrigerated foods is still a double-digit department, contributing 10.33% of sales.

Once we reach the non-perishables categories (please see Table 4), percentages of sales cluster closer together across the five quintiles. Dry grocery departments reach 20.62% of sales in the largest perishables stores, but the next three quintiles; 4, 3, and 2, stay fairly close with 19.54%, 15.02%, and 12.47% in sales from dry grocery, respectively. Bulk foods generate the most uniform percentage of total sales across all store types, and range from 3.31% to 8.61%.

For supplements (please see Table 5), here is where the tables are reversed. Stores that sell 0% perishables shine when it comes to selling vitamins, minerals, herbs and homeopathics; generating 76.13% of total sales from supplements. Even though the percentage of sales for supplements decreases as the percentage of perishables increases, you’ll notice that supplements real dollar amounts increase. Stores that get 34% to 45% of sales from perishables (Quintile 4) actually have the largest supplements departments, generating $1.7 million in sales, or 20.83%.

Health and beauty aids (HABA) make up 4.11% to 10.91% of sales across our five quintiles; a fairly tight percentage range. Here too, stores in Quintile 4 have the largest HABA departments in dollar terms, generating $725,691 at 8.71% of sales.

Remember to go online to access the main survey findings, including customers per day and average transaction amounts, published in January.

You’re invited!Would you like to be part of WholeFoods Magazines’ 2018 – 40th Annual Retailer Survey? If so, please send your email address to to reserve your place on our invitation list. We’ll be fielding the survey in early August, 2017, and asking independent natural products retailers to tell us their results during the 12 months ending June 30, 2017. Look out for the 40th Annual Retailer Survey in the March 2018 issue!WF

Published in WholeFoods Magazine June 2017