The Retail Apocalypse is Alive and Well

Giving Walmart workers an extra $8 or $9 a day might have little or no impact on the economy. Walmart clerks can now afford to buy lunch at In-N-Out Burger; rather than at McDonald’s, how does that benefit the wider economy? Much higher wages will be needed for a real economic stimulus.

It remains to be seen if the $1,000 bonus and wage hike will have any effect on Main Street. Giving average families an extra $1,000 to pay off $1,000 of their credit card debt, might not do much for the economy. The average U.S. household now owes $15,654 in credit-card debt, Nerdwallet estimated.

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Can Sprouts Farmers Market Survive without Acquisition?

The most obvious buyer for Sprouts would be Kroger, which has been aggressively trying to attract more organic and high-end grocery business.

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Is Target Making Money or Doomed?

The next logical step at Target should be a strategy of acquisition. Other brands are cheap because of the retail apocalypse and Target certainly has the cash.

The best target would be an online retailer or the online operations of struggling brick and mortar retailers. An interesting acquisition for Target would be JC Penney’s (NYSE: JCP) online operations.

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What Will Amazon Acquire Next?

The question we need to ask is: “what companies will Amazon acquire next?” Some probable candidates for Amazon acquisition include:

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Kroger is winning the Grocery Wars; Amazon has Bought Whole Foods

Kroger (NYSE: KR) and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) are winning the grocery wars. Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM) has given up

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Do Organic Grocers Make Money?

All this makes Whole Foods a very suspect investment even though its stock has done well. WFM investors received a return on equity of 13.69% on December 31. The company is scheduled to pay a 14¢ a share dividend on April 5, 2017. One has to wonder how much longer that can continue. Sprouts pays no dividend but its’ investors did receive a 16.07% return on equity on December 31, 2016.

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Is Amazon Really a Threat to Grocers?

My take is that the major grocers; and high-end grocers like Whole Foods, will survive but many of the regional and discount chains will not. Instead of being a direct threat to grocers, Amazon will be an indirect threat taking some business and providing another headache for grocers.

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Can Sprouts Survive?

These figures indicate that Sprouts can run out of money at any time. That might mean it will have to start closing stores or simply sell the entire chain like Roundy’s and the Fresh Market did. Nor would it get that much for the entire operation, Ycharts reported that Sprouts had a Market capitalization of $3.072 billion and an enterprise value of $3.063 billion on September 19, 2016.

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Organics Generate a lot of Sales Growth, but no Cash or Income

Low margins and intense competition make both Whole Foods and Sprouts bad investments. Both of these chains will struggle to survive in a market filled with larger and far better capitalized rivals in the near future. My prediction is that either Whole Foods or Sprouts will enter the death spiral at some point before the year 2020.

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Can Whole Foods Market Avoid the Death Spiral?

More importantly, Kroger has reported 49 quarters of same store growth as of second quarter 2016. One has to wonder how Whole Foods is supposed to be able to compete with that.

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