Whole Foods stock hits all-time high as post-recession growth continues

David Maly

Whole Foods Market, the Austin-based Fortune 500 supermarket chain, experienced an all-time high in its stocks last Thursday, marking a major point in the company’s post-recession recovery and growth.

The company’s stock peaked at $82.36 per share Thursday and closed Friday at $81.62. The stock began sinking in 2005, dropping from a former all-time high of $79.90 to below $9 per share by November of 2008.

The company took steps after their stock began plummeting to combat economic turbulence, said company spokesperson Libba Letton. This meant slowing down and looking at company expenses more sharply. Measures involved cost-cutting, slowed expansion and implementation of more sales strategies such as deals, sales and coupons.

“We weren’t sure we’d done a good job of emphasizing the value of our products,” Letton said.

Assistant finance professor Cesare Fracassi said the company’s rise in success during national economic turbulence was due to a lack of competition. Whole Foods Market was successful because they market luxury items — those being high-quality, organic groceries. He said Whole Foods doesn’t have as much competition as lower-quality grocery stores.

“Think of their products like jewelry, a luxury good,” Fracassi said. “High-quality but expensive.”

Letton said she believed the recent success of the company had more to do with the move towards healthier living in the U.S.

“While I won’t disagree with the quality of our products, I see them as being more of a lifestyle good,” Letton said. “There has been an increased American trend towards a healthier lifestyle, and that is reflected in our sales.”

Mathematics sophomore Brandon LaVoppui said he shops at Whole Foods because of the large variety.

“They have everything I could want, especially in terms of fruit, vegetables and meat,” LaVoppui said. “All their products are well-organized and appealing.”

LaVoppui said he also enjoys the helpful and pleasant atmosphere, which puts Whole Foods a level above other supermarkets.

“Customer service is unmatchable,” LaVoppui said. “It’s not just a grocery store, but a place to hang out.”

Letton said the company is preparing to expand into more markets as the economic recovery progresses.

“The company is currently revamping their economic strategy, this time for post-recession growth. They plan to open a record number of new stores in smaller markets where surprising success has been observed,” Letton said. “There is a lot of room for expansion.”

Printed on Monday, February 13, 2012 as: Whole Foods stock rises to new heights