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5 things: Is Walgreens in hot water?

Here’s 5 things you may have missed in grocery

Can Walgreens bounce back? Walgreens recently announced that it’s planning to close a “significant number” of its underperforming U.S. retail locations amid what it described as an extremely challenging operating environment. The pharmacy chain announced quarterly earnings Thursday morning that fell short of Wall Street expectations, and the company’s stock price dropped 22% that day. In an interview with CNBC, CEO Tim Wentworth said Walgreens is now forecasting weaker consumer spending for the rest of the year. “The consumer is absolutely stunned by the absolute prices of things, and the fact that some of them may not be inflating doesn’t actually change their resistance to the current pricing…So we’ve had to get really keen, particularly in discretionary things.” Today, Walgreens is about one-third the size of rival CVS. It remains to be seen whether closing more stores will help…or hurt. —Chloe Riley

It’s the cool thing to do: It appears Sam’s Club knows what to dangle in front of young shoppers to get their business, and it’s all about being cool. Sam’s Club CEO Chris Nicholas told CNBC recently that his membership-only warehouse club saw a 68% increase in Gen Z members over the last two years. So what’s the carrot on the stick? Technology. Sam’s Club is now using AI with its Scan & Go app, which eliminates the need for a paper receipt and allows members to jump ahead of all those slow-moving Baby Boomers as they exit the warehouse. Some stores also have receipt-verification scanners to eliminate any stopping en route to the parking lot. Sam’s Club may be winning the Gen Z shopper war with Costco, which still has human checkers at the exit (so 1990s). Costco does have its private label brand Kirkland, which is viewed by many as a powerhouse. And Gen Z does also like to lean on private-label products, according to a survey by PLMA. Keep your eyes peeled as Sam’s Club and Costco battle it out for the bigger share of the younger shopper — it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. —Bill Wilson

Grocery delivery ranked: The best grocery delivery service available is (drumroll, please) Amazon Fresh! We bet you didn’t see that one coming. But that’s the opinion of Forbes Vetted, which ranks everything from anti-aging serums to mosquito repellent on the news organization’s website. The column notes that the service offers “a wide assortment of national and local brands” and claims that it is “one of the few grocery delivery services that accepts SNAP benefits.” Don’t mention that to Instacart, which pioneered accepting SNAP benefits a couple of years ago. They might want to have a conversation with DoorDash, Uber Eats, Walmart, Target, Kroger, Safeway, and dozens of other grocers across the country that now accept SNAP payments online. The column continues by naming Misfits Market as the best value grocery delivery service; Instacart as the best service for variety; Thrive Market as the best service for organic food, and Shipt as the best service for students. The list goes on for those looking to dig in on what customers can expect from the growing delivery market. –Tim Inklebarger

Pardon the interruption: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, estimated to be worth some $20 million, told Yahoo Finance in an interview that she still does her own shopping at the grocery store every week. But when asked: “Should the U.S. invest in more agriculture in order to increase the food supply?” Yellen vehemently said no, adding that she believes the higher cost in labor is one of the main reasons for inflated prices at grocery stores. She also said she met with several CEOs and believes “core purchases” like bread and the likes have gone down in price. Yellen additionally predicts that inflation will continue to come down and hit the Fed’s gold standard of 2% by early next year. We can all hold our breath. —BW

Grocery, the video game: What does a grocer do to blow off some steam after a long day of running a supermarket? If you answered, “Fire up the Playstation for a couple of hours of the new game Supermarket Simulation Grocery Empire 3D, you’d be wrong. The Nintendo website promises “exciting gameplay” and the chance to “step into the shoes of a supermarket manager and control your own network of stores to become the most successful entrepreneur in town!” We were intrigued by the release of the new game but were unable to play it ourselves, as we do not own a Playstation or Nintendo gaming system. So, we turned to the internet for some guidance, and the reviews were about what we thought. “It could be a great sim game but this one is soooo bad omg,” said one player commenting on Reddit. Another smirked: “I play this game in real life about 40 hours a week. And I get paid for it!” We have yet to confirm whether this comment was left by Kroger Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen. Will update if we hear back from the grocery giant. Until then, we’ll take the advice of other gamers who suggest we focus our efforts completing Lawn Mowing Simulator. Yes, that’s a real game, too. –TI 

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