ShopRite operator Village Super Market saw overall and same-store sales surge by double digits in its fiscal 2020 third quarter, driven in part by higher demand triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Springfield, N.J.-based Village Super Market said Wednesday that sales totaled $458.3 million for the quarter ended April 25, up 15.9% from nearly $395.5 million a year earlier. Comparable-store sales climbed 13.6% year over year.
Along with the comp sales gain, Village Super Market attributed the strong quarterly sales growth to the opening of a replacement ShopRite store in Stroudsburg, Pa., in November and to the acquisition of New York City specialty market Gourmet Garage last June.
“Same-store sales increased due primarily to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and related stay-at-home measures, most significantly in March, where sales reached unprecedented levels,” Village Super Market said in a statement. “Same-store sales also increased due to continued sales growth in the Bronx, New York City, store opened on June 28, 2018, and digital sales growth of 41.8%.”
At the bottom line, third-quarter net earnings came in at almost $11.2 million, more than doubling year-ago net income of just under $5 million. Village Super Market noted that the fiscal 2020 quarter reflects a gain on the sale of prescription files from three in-store pharmacies closed in March and pension settlement charges. Excluding those items, plus higher pension settlement costs in the prior-year period, net earnings were up 97% for the 2020 quarter, the company said.
Reported earnings per share for the quarter were 86 cents for Class A common stock and 56 cents for Class B common stock, compared with 39 cents and 25 cents, respectively, a year earlier. Diluted share earnings were 77 cents for Class A and 56 cents for Class B stocks versus 34 cents and 25 cents, respectively, in the year-ago period.
In response to COVID-19, Village Super Market said it invested more than $5.5 million during the third quarter on initiatives to safeguard customers and employees and support the communities it serves in its four-state market area.
For workers, efforts included a temporary wage premium of $2 for all hourly frontline associates and weekly premiums for salaried front-line associates from March 22 to June 13; accelerated payment of quarterly bonuses; emergency paid leave to associates affected by COVID-19; and health care coverage for all associates unable to work because of coronavirus. The company also set up a central call center to help keep employees updated on COVID-19 policies and CDC-recommended protocols; created a text communication platform to provide enrolled associates with real-time alerts and updates; expanded remote work capabilities for office associates; and provided over 150,000 meals (including two hot meals during the day to all associates on duty and a boxed lunch to all night crew associates) through the Feeding Our Village Heroes Program.
In addition to reduced store hours and enhanced cleaning in stores and facilities, safety measures for customers and employees included a reserved shopping hour each day for seniors and at-risk customers; social distancing floor markers and signage in stores; plexiglass shields at checkout and customer service and pharmacy counters; closures of in-store restaurants and dining areas; shopper capacity limits to about 30% of each store’s maximum occupancy: face masks and gloves for workers; and temperature checks for all associates.
Village Super Market said it expanded digital capabilities as well to meet the surge in customer demand and promote physical distancing. Those initiatives included four pop-up “ShopRite from Home” stores, contactless grocery pickup, and prescription drug pickup and delivery. The company also expanded partnerships with online grocery picking and delivery services, added mobile checkout to another 10 stores and launched the “Essentials Box” program, which provides prepackaged collections of in-demand produce or cleaning products for delivery.
“Our first priority throughout this unprecedented time has been and will continue to be the safety of our associates and our customers,” Village Super Market stated.
Also during the third quarter, Village Super Market added a new retail banner: Fairway Market. In March, the company won an auction for five Fairway stores as part of that chain’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. Village Super Market agreed to pay $76 million for four of Fairway’s Manhattan stores (Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Chelsea and Kips Bay, plus the parking lot of the Harlem store) and its Pelham Manor store in New York’s Westchester County. Village, too, acquired Fairway’s production and distribution center in the Bronx.
A member of the Wakefern Food Corp. retail cooperative, Village Super Market owns and operates 35 supermarkets under the ShopRite and Fairway banners in New Jersey, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania plus three Gourmet Garage specialty markets in New York City.
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