A Letter from the Co-op General Manager
To Our Community,
Last night was the first Board meeting of 2021. During the meeting, I shared a report with the Board that presents a high-level snapshot of our business. As always, I would like to share that with you today as well.
Big picture. For 2020, our Co-op experienced sizeable increases in total sales, items sold, gross margin, and basket size compared to the pre-COVID time period of 2019. However, over the past several months, the month-to-month increases have begun to level off, as can be seen from the graph below.
Financials. For the year-to-date period ending December 31, 2020, the average shopper’s basket size—meaning the price paid for their food—was once again greater than the same period last year. Gross margins (sales minus cost of sales) were also greater than the same period last year.
Sales. Our Grocery, Meat, Produce, Dairy, and Frozen Foods departments continued to provide strong sales growth. Members accounted for approximately 78.5% of sales during this period versus 76.9% for the same period last year.
Gasoline. Savings from Operations from gas sales are positive and ahead of budget even though gas sales nationwide continue to decline. On a year-to-date basis, we have pumped close to 300,000 fewer gallons at an average price of $0.36 less per gallon compared to the same period last year.
PFD. Prepared Foods teams are implementing new programs in 2021, focusing on alternative and local ingredients and numerous new recipes.
Workforce planning. The number of unfilled positions has decreased, allowing us to address critical needs across multiple locations. Location managers reviewed new systems and processes in December as part of our workforce planning for 2021, ensuring we strategically place resources where they are needed throughout the year.
Local. Going into 2021, the first priority for promotions will be around local foods. Consumer interest in local has intensified during the pandemic. During the month of January, we’ll be working on utilizing customer feedback on local, setting metrics, and building a plan around local promotions.
Training. Employee training continues with renewed emphasis in 2021, with new and continuing classes.
Business continuity. Phase 2 of the Business Continuity Project begins in January. It features a business-impact analysis, which will include a risk assessment. This phase will touch all areas of the Co-op as we will garner input from employees at every level.
Safety. As always, safety is first and foremost, particularly as the pandemic enters its second year. All locations continue to maintain stringent daily COVID-19 protocols to ensure customers enjoy a clean and safe experience.
Furthering our commitment to safety and transparency, this week we are implementing a new tool called our COVID-19 dashboard. You can find it online here. The dashboard was designed to give anyone a quick, at-a-glance summary of the number of COVID cases within our cooperative community.
To date, our exposure is remarkably low, which speaks volumes about the aggressive safety policies we have implemented from the beginning of the pandemic.
When notified of a case, the Co-op works with health officials to determine risk, using guidance from the CDC. The dashboard has been designed to preserve everyone’s confidentiality. The dashboard provides only the number of cases, not names, locations, or any other information that might inadvertently reveal a person’s identity. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are required to maintain strict privacy protocols. The dashboard provides all the disclosure we can share in accordance with federal law.
Thank you to our community and as always, I welcome your comments and questions. Please reach out to me anytime. In the meantime, remember to be kind to one another and to yourselves, and we will see you in our stores and at the curbside.
Onward and upward,