Cottonwood Heights, Utah, was wiped out of bananas.
Kildeer, Ill., was wiped out of rainbow chard.
Wynnewood, Pa., was light on chard, too.
There was no asparagus, broccoli or artichokes in Fresno.
In Hillsboro, Ore., there was only one empty shelf, but the store checker noted there was only one bag of lemons left on a display.
San Antonio had no organic cucumbers.
Town and Country, Mo.’s banana set was atrocious.
Get this. Rocky River, Ohio – OHIO – was light on mushrooms. (Approx. distance to Kennett Square, Pa., = 400 miles. Leamington, Ontario, is half that. Not a transportation issue.)
In Omaha, the pre-cut vegetables were thin, and the store checker noticed “barely any fresh cheese available.”
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Back in December, I defended Whole Foods when Business Insider took its first shot at empty shelves and disorganization.

I did that primarily because the store checks they cited were the week of Thanksgiving, and just about every supermarket in America looks like a hot mess that week.

Now, another article has come to the surface, this time talking widespread out of stocks.

They’re saying the new order-to-shelf system, aimed at reducing unnecessary inventory, is wreaking havoc on aisles. Social media complaints are pointing at Amazon’s acquisition, and the timing is suspect, but this is a system that’s been in implementation phase since before Amazon.

Why are we suddenly hearing bout rampant out-of-stocks?

And, is it really this bad? 

Business Insider’s store checks are primarily in the New York City and Northeast, so I was curious.

I sent my husband out to Whole Foods on January 18. At two stores in North Austin, shelves were a-ok. That’s not fair, though. This is Austin, the home town of Whole Foods.

I asked Ashley Nickle, my colleague at The Packer to check the Overland Park, Kan., store.

A-Ok.

So, now it’s time to turn to some professionals, so I hopped over to Jicco, by Field Agent, which is like Google for retail. I asked “agents” to send me photos of empty shelves at Whole Foods.

…and they delivered.

Over a wide swath of the country, in just over five hours.

field agent store checks
Jicco by Field Agent gathered store check photos from these 10 sites. 

Ok, guys. Something’s going on.

But, could it be related to trucks? We all know what’s going on with trucks right now, but this first store check tells me it’s not trucks.

  • There was no asparagus, broccoli or artichokes in Fresno.
  • In Hillsboro, Ore., there was only one empty shelf, but the store checker noted there was only one bag of lemons left on a display.
  • Cottonwood Heights, Utah, was wiped out of bananas.
  • Kildeer, Ill., was wiped out of rainbow chard.
  • San Antonio had no organic cucumbers.
  •  Town and Country, Mo.’s banana set was atrocious.
  • Get this. Rocky River, Ohio – OHIO – was light on mushrooms. (Approx. distance to Kennett Square, Pa., = 400 miles. Leamington, Ontario, is half that. Not a transportation issue.)
  • Wynnewood, Pa., was light on chard, too.
  • In Omaha, the pre-cut vegetables were thin, and the store checker noticed “barely any fresh cheese available.”

Something’s going on, and Whole Foods needs to figure it out. This is more than weather, trucks and holiday wipeout. 

You can’t sell what you don’t have on a display, and consumers will only give you so many chances. If Amazon was hoping to lure people in with lower prices, Whole Foods better deliver with the experience people expect.

I rescind my previous defense of this issue. Something's not right here. 

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