COVID-19 latest news from North America

16 April 2020
In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, convenience operators are implementing measures to ensure everyone has access to the food and consumer goods products they need. We will continue to update this article as the latest initiatives are announced. Latest from UK Co-op has invested £3m to install thousands of protective Perspex screens at till points in its 2,600 stores, alo...
16 April 2020
Loblaw is providing non-subscribers with temporary access to its exclusive online food content platform, PC Insiders Project. Subscription-based service Loblaw has temporarily unlocked the exclusive content site that it has developed for members of its PC Insiders initiative, a subscription-based service. Launched nationally in 2018, this provides members with access to a range of perks, in...
16 April 2020
Whole Foods Market has closed one of its key New York stores to enable it to fulfil Prime grocery deliveries. Developed to meet needs of city workers and tourists The Bryant Park store , located in central Manhattan, is one of the retailer’s busiest in the city, alongside neighbouring stores at Columbus Circle and Union Square. Opening in late 2016, the store was one of the first to in...
16 April 2020
US retail sales fell 8.7% in March, compared to a month earlier. We look at how this breaks down across different sectors and the outlook going forward. Non-food sales see significant drop Given the mandated stay-at-home measures and voluntary closures by most retailers, due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the decline in sales was expected. Year-on-year, retail sales fell 6.2%. A se...
15 April 2020
With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic requiring shoppers globally to remain at home, retailers exhausting online order capacity, and rationalising ranges, now is the time for businesses to use online to sell directly to consumers (D2C). Demand is so high for online ordering and home delivery, that the cost to acquire and retain shoppers, a key barrier to launching a D2C operation, is current...
15 April 2020
In a letter to stakeholders, Starbucks provided an update on how COVID-19 has impacted its business and how it is responding, as well as sharing preliminary financial results ahead of its Q2 report on 28 April. McDonald’s has also released a statement ahead of its Q1 results, due for release on 30 April. For more on the company’s announcement, read more here . Starbucks’s focus Sinc...
15 April 2020
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expanding its SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme) online pilot to two more states: Florida and Idaho. Amazon and Walmart participating in all pilot states The pilot programme enables recipients of SNAP benefits, often referred to as food stamps, to purchase items through designated online retailers. The pilot is live in Alabama, Iowa...
15 April 2020
In response to the high demand for its existing online grocery services in Quebec and British Columbia, Sobeys is accelerating the planned launch of its Voilà service in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Initial testing planned for end of April The Voilà by Sobeys service is being developed in partnership with UK-based Ocado and will be the retailer’s first ecommerce business in the Ontario m...
14 April 2020
We look at some of the latest developments from Amazon in the US as it looks to address the challenges created by coronavirus. Waiting list for new customers Amazon has created a waiting list for new Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market delivery and pickup customers. The retailer is temporarily asking customers to sign up for an invitation to use its online grocery delivery and pickup soluti...
14 April 2020
Ahead of releasing Q1 results on 30 April, McDonald’s President and CEO Chris Kempczinski issued an update on the company’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and performance since the beginning of 2020.  Key messages The statement focussed on three key points: The current situation has had a significant impact on business: started 2020 in a strong position, with global like-for-l...
09 April 2020
As countries implement social distancing measures to slow down the spread of coronavirus, foodservice operators have been forced to close their doors. Whilst some have been able to use government support to effectively hibernate operations, others have reacted with agility to adapt to the situation and bring new purpose to their businesses. The changes they have made fall into three main areas...
09 April 2020
Amazon is due to suspend its third-party delivery service in the US, starting from 5 June, for an unspecified period. In direct competition with FedEX and UPS The delivery service, called Amazon Shipping, was available in a small number of US cities, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, and consisted in drivers picking parcels up from third-party businesses and delivering them to co...
07 April 2020
To help local restaurants during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, H-E-B is stocking a selection of local products in its stores. Popular local meals H-E-B already stocked selected restaurant branded products, however this pilot is the first time it is bringing ready made meals into its stores. Headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, the retailer is working closely with local restaurants to...
03 April 2020
We look at Dollarama’s Q4 results and the impact of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on the early part of its first quarter. Full year sales up to CA$3.8 bn The retailer’s fourth quarter sales increased by 0.5% to CA$1.1 bn, with the quarter one week shorter than in 2019. Comparable store sales increased by 2.0%, or by 3.8% excluding the impact of a calendar shift. Operating income incre...
02 April 2020
One of the key pivots that companies have had to make quickly in response to the Coronavirus pandemic is with their marketing messages. Several companies launched eye-catching campaigns to support social distancing measures in March, with many iconic brands re-working their logos as part of similar initiatives. The new reality Beyond this, we are starting to see companies adapt their communi...
02 April 2020
Kroger has released a trading update and outlined its initial responses to COVID-19. Sales up 30% With the COVID-19 pandemic causing shoppers to stock up on groceries, Kroger has experienced a 30% increase in identical store sales for March (excl fuel), compared to the same period last year. Both its physical stores and its online services have seen growth and to support this, Kroger is mak...
01 April 2020
Lidl inaugurates a new regional distribution centre (RDC) in Cecil County, Maryland, which will serve as the cornerstone of the discounter’s regional store network and support its expansion plans in the country. 700,000 square feet facility The new facility has required an investment of $100 million, and is due to create over 200 new positions. The RDC will serve stores across five states: ...
01 April 2020
Over the last few weeks we have seen retailers implement a range of social-distancing initiatives, including floor stickers, plexiglass guards and limiting the number of shoppers in store at any one time. We consider how retailers may start to think differently about the future store experience so that they can respond at pace to any future social-distancing requirements. 1. Changes to stor...
31 March 2020
Amazon is offering its own warehouse employees higher pay to pick and pack Whole Foods Market groceries, as reported by Reuters. Rising demand and worker shortage According to the report, Amazon is reallocating its workforce in response to an increasingly high demand and a worker shortage. Selected workers are due to see a $2 increase in pay per hour, to $19, on top of the pay increase Amaz...
30 March 2020
We look at the latest initiatives from Walmart in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including contact-free payment and contact-free pickup and delivery. Contact free payment The retailer is introducing no contact payment for customers using the Walmart Pay app. Walmart developed the payment service four years ago as part of its goal to transform the shopping experience in its...
27 March 2020
With online grocery demand continuing to increase, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we look at how Kroger in the US is trialling a pickup only store. Alternative shopping methods With shoppers looking for alternative ways to shop for groceries, and online services finding it difficult to maintain service levels, Kroger has converted a store in Cincinnati to pickup only, through its ClickList s...
26 March 2020
With retailers expecting elevated demand levels to continue, although for most at slightly lower levels than recent weeks, we look at what changes are being made to support this and how they could shape food retailing in the future. 1. Range rationalisation: choice vs efficiency Most retailers are undertaking some form of range rationalisation, especially in high-demand categories. These in...
26 March 2020
Singapore and six other Pacific Rim countries have committed to work closely to keep their supply chains open during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Myanmar, New Zealand In addition to Singapore, the leaders of six other countries from the Pacific Rim have issued a joint statement that recognised the importance of not imposing export controls, tariffs ...
26 March 2020
On February 28, SPAR International released a document on Preparedness Planning to help its customers and partners respond to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Recognising consumer behavioural shifts SPAR outlined the anticipated consumer behaviour shifts:                       Avoidance of dining out along with shifting to more meals at home, especially where schools might be clos...
25 March 2020
AI food technology company, Spoon Guru, has launched a new ‘Immunity Support TAG’ which is designed to appeal to an increased interest in this aspect of health during the coronavirus outbreak. Immunity Support TAG As shoppers search for health ‘shortcuts’ during the coronavirus outbreak, Spoon Guru has developed an initiative that claims to help people to identify food products that support...
25 March 2020
Our team has been continually monitoring the latest developments from retailers and manufacturers globally over the past few weeks. In this article we highlight three ways retailers are and could further adapt their online operations to deal with the on-going effects of the pandemic. 1. Making online groceries available for those most in need We have seen retailers around the world flex the...
25 March 2020
Consumer goods company Unilever has announced a series of measures aimed at supporting consumers, communities and suppliers. Product donations, partnerships and education programmes Unilever is donating products such as soap, sanitiser, bleach and food worth at least €50 million to the COVID Action Platform of the World Economic Forum, whilst adapting its current manufacturing lines to prod...
25 March 2020
We look at the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the performance and operations of global suppliers. Unilever: supporting smaller suppliers Unilever will offer €500m of cash flow relief to support livelihoods across its extended value chain This includes early payment for its most vulnerable small and medium sized suppliers, to help them with financial liquidity The ...
25 March 2020
Target has outlined the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the business, including its sales performance and store development plans. Surge in sales and traffic Target started to see a shift in sales in the fourth week of February, with an increase in traffic and comparable store sales. Starting in mid-March, the surge in traffic and sales became stronger, concentrated in the ...
24 March 2020
We look at the plans of major companies to recruit almost 1m new associates to support elevated in-store demand and the online delivery of groceries and meals. Instacart aiming to add 300,000 new gig workers Third-party on-demand delivery company, Instacart, aims to add 300,000 associates to support its platform in cities across the US over the next three months. This will more than double ...
24 March 2020
Across the world companies are increasing their collaboration to help fight the pandemic and tackle product shortages. Global spirit manufacturers Diageo, Anheuser-Busch and Pernod Ricard are helping with the production of hand sanitisers. Diageo to enable the production of eight million bottles of hand sanitiser Distiller Diageo has pledged to make available 2 million liters of Grain Neutr...
23 March 2020
We detail the latest initiatives from Canada’s leading food retailers in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Loblaw In response to a significant uptick in sales, with the retailer noting “extraordinary numbers of people in stores, long lines, and aisles empty of product,” Loblaw’s executive chairman, Galen Weston, has sought to reassure shoppers on several key issues The retailer is...
20 March 2020
We look at the actions some of the major retailers in the US have undertaken in response to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in four key areas; stores, supply chain, associate care and community support. Common actions Reduced operating hours to enable restocking and store cleaning, along with introduction of dedicated shopping periods for vulnerable shoppers Closed or limited servic...
20 March 2020
We look at Walmart’s plan to recruit 150,000 temporary workers in the US and how it’s supporting its existing workforce with a special cash bonus. Fast-track recruitment process Following a significant surge in demand through both its stores and online grocery service, Walmart is planning to hire 150,000 associates to work in its stores, clubs, distribution centres and fulfillment centres. ...
20 March 2020
Due to significantly increased demand, Amazon has temporarily suspended its Prime Pantry grocery delivery service in the country. High order volumes Amazon Prime Pantry announced it is not accepting new orders due to high order volumes. The service enables Prime members to order products including food and beverages, alcohol, personal care and household items for delivery. Whilst Amazon sai...
20 March 2020
We look at how General Mills is taking learnings from Asia and flexing its approach as it responds to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Store traffic remains down c.60% in Asia As one of the first suppliers to report quarterly results amid the current Coronavirus pandemic, General Mills shared several insights into the impact on its performance. In China, around half of its Haagen-Dazs s...
18 March 2020
Restaurant and food-to-go operators in many countries around the world are having to adapt to new advice about social distancing in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Here is a summary of the latest actions some of these operators are taking: Focussing on delivery In China, the delivery sector has reportedly quadrupled its turnover in the last two months, according to a rep...