To Our Community,
Last night at the Co-op Board of Directors meeting, I presented a brief overview of the Co-op’s operations for the month ending May 2021. Below are the highlights.
Grocery, Meat, Produce, Dairy, and Frozen Foods continue to provide strong sales growth. Sales for the month and year-to-date exceed our budget for the same time periods last year. Although overall sales growth remains robust, shopper transactions were marginally less than year-ago levels. Total items sold year-to-date were 5.6% less than 2020 levels.
Customer visits for May are up significantly over last year but lower than 2019’s figures. As shoppers return to our stores more frequently, and with pantry restocking moderating, average basket size has declined slightly through 2021, remaining below 2020 levels and ahead of 2019 levels. Gross margins (sales minus cost of sales) were positive and slightly ahead of the comparable period last year.
Gas prices have risen since the beginning of the year. Year-to-date, our average price is approximately $0.27 more per gallon compared to the same period last year, and $1.04 more than May last year. For the month of May, we have pumped 31,180 more gallons than the same period last year. Sales of our non-gas business was ahead of budget for the month.
Our Food Safety program has been revamped, with a new energy and a new training manual. The goal is to ensure that our training is relevant, meaningful, and timely.
We are offering over 50 items from 16 local growers. These numbers will continue to grow throughout the summer months.
We met with a team from VEIC to review and add to their initial proposal. The proposal includes conducting a thorough analysis of our business to map out possible scenarios for achieving targets with various timelines and budget requirements. We are nearing a final proposal and expect to move to the next phase of work soon. (UPDATE: the contract was signed this morning).
In May, promotions continued to focus on online ordering and employment. As we enter the growing season, our teams will shift to local promotions.
Meat Task Force
Our work on the Vermont Meat Task Force has led to conversations around a pilot program that aims to help local farmers diversify. Co-op merchandiser Greg Marsh and Public Affairs Director Allan Reetz are collaborating to explore this opportunity.
The Lebanon Update Project is still on schedule, though supply chain issues have interrupted our original sequencing plan. The refrigerant conversion was successfully completed during the week of May 17th. ReArch, our construction management firm, has set up a “command center” outside of the Lebanon store and is settling in.
My thanks to all of our members and shoppers for the continued support, and as always, reach out to me anytime if you have feedback or questions.
Remember that shoppers may go mask-free at all Co-op locations beginning July 1. I look forward to seeing your smiling faces once again.
In the meantime, if you would like to stay fully updated on the latest changes to our COVID-19 policies, please visit our COVID Policy Dashboard.
Be kind to one another and to yourselves. We look forward to serving you in our stores and at the curbside.
Onward and upward,