Thank you for participating in WholeFoods 41st Annual Retailer Survey. To show our gratitude, here is your advance look at key findings from the survey. As an independent retailer, you will get the most from this survey by first tallying up your sales from four main fresh-foods departments: refrigerated, frozen, produce and deli. Once you find what percentage of your total sales these four categories represent, you can compare your results to similar stores in your corresponding Group—either Group 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or, new this year, Group 6. We organize the survey this way because perishables largely determine how large a store will be, and the sales it achieves. A store in Group 6 looks nothing like a store in Group 1, which is essentially like a Whole Foods Market. Compare your results to the results of stores only in your perishables group, as outlined in the table below.

Fresh Perishable Foods Define the Store

Overall, retailers in this year's survey sold an average of $2,439,257, of which $1,012,206 came from fresh perishables foods, representing 41.5% of sales.
Category on the Rise: Perishables

Retailers in this year's survey told us they have increased the amount of fresh foods they sell, with each of the five perishables groups (Groups 1 through 5) reporting higher sales ranges for fresh foods. For example, this year Group 1, the largest stores in the survey, sold a minimum of 46% perishables; last year, this group qualified for Group 1 status by reaching just 40% perishables.
Investing in Employees

Stores in Group 1, which sell the most perishables (58.0%), pay more dollars per hour for labor than groups selling fewer perishables. This makes sense, since the safety and efficiency required to prepare, butcher, cook and serve fresh foods demands more highly paid culinary talent. Still, Group 2 has the highest labor costs on a percentage basis, at 20.17%. What this suggests: Stores in this group don't offer quite enough fresh foods to attract the daily traffic that would drive sales higher. In supplement-focused stores, Group 5 appears to be investing in trained nutrition staff, paying an average of $16.56 per hour. The strategy does seem to be working, as Group 5 generates nearly 2.5 times the sales of Group 6, which pays just $12.54 per hour on average for labor.
For more, watch for the full survey, which will be published in the March 2019 issue of WholeFoods Magazine, with additional information exclusively on