State of the Co-op, December 2020

A Letter from the Co-op General Manager

To Our Community,

Last night was the last Board meeting for 2020. During the meeting I shared a report that presents a high-level snapshot of our business. As with every Thursday after the Board meeting, I would like to share this with you as well.

Big picture
We follow many metrics but these four are key: total sales, items sold, gross margin, and basket size. In quick summary, those metrics continue to reflect year-over-year increases compared to prior year levels. They also reflect an increase over our pre-pandemic expectations. Although these metrics
remain higher than pre-COVID levels, the month-to-month increases are leveling off. Overall, we are a good position as we head into the final two weeks of the year.

Financials. For the year to date period ending November 30, 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. We continue to experience strong overall sales growth, led by Grocery, Meat, Produce, Dairy, and Frozen Foods. Members accounted for approximately 78.2% of sales during this period versus 76.6% for the same period last year.

Gasoline. Savings from Operations from gas sales are positive and ahead of budget. This is in spite of the fact that gas sales nationwide continue to decline. On a year to date basis, we have pumped 267,197 fewer gallons at an average price of $0.36 less per gallon compared to the same period last year. Telecommuting has become a popular option for many area businesses, with the largest reporting more than 1,000 employees working from home.

Promotions. We experienced a very successful Thanksgiving, with online turkey orders nearly double over the numbers from last year.  We sold more than 400 turkeys, up from 235 in 2019.

Online ordering. We continue to add to the selection of products available through our Groceries-2-Go program. We have added over 200 items from our Bulk Foods and Deli departments, as well as a number of seasonal holiday products from our Grocery department.

Workforce planning. The number of unfilled positions declined over the last month from approximately 40 to 25 as we have been able to address some critical needs across multiple locations.

Local. We are currently buying about 50 products from fifteen local Produce growers and offering holiday trees and wreaths and fresh holly from five local growers.

Safety. Finally, with COVID cases rising throughout our area, we remain particularly vigilant about our safety policies. All locations continue to maintain daily COVID-19 protocols to ensure customers enjoy a clean and safe experience.

Wrap Up

Since next Thursday is Christmas Eve, and my birthday, my birthday gift to you is there will be no blog post from me next week. Our stores will be closing at 4 p.m. that day and will remain closed throughout Christmas day on Friday. In the meantime, my team and I will be busy throughout the week next week working in the stores—greeting customers and thanking you for your business. I hope to see many of your mask-adorned faces and look forward to serving you in any way that I can.

Thank you to our community and as always, I welcome your comments and questions. Please reach out to me anytime. In the meantime, happy holidays to one and all. 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,





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Paul Guidone

Paul Guidone, CFA, spent the better part of four decades in the investment management business here and abroad. He held positions ranging from analyst through Deputy Chairman and Group CEO, at organizations such as Citigroup (US) and The HSBC Group (London and Hong Kong). He joined the Co-op in 2016 as the CFO and in 2018 became Strategic Advisor to the General Manager. Paul was appointed by the Co-op Board as interim General Manager in March 2020 and General Manager in September 2020. To contact, email

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