Publix withers under mounting pressures
Publix reported sales of $8.69 billion for the first quarter, a 0.4 percent decrease from last year’s $8.72 billion. Comparable-store sales decreased 2.1 percent, the retailer's worst decline in same store sales since 2009. Net earnings were $555.3 million, compared to $581.9 million in 2016, a decrease of 4.6 percent. Earnings per share for the first quarter decreased to $0.73 for 2017, down from $0.75 per share in 2016.
“Our results were impacted by the timing of Easter, which was in the first quarter in 2016,” said Publix CEO & President Todd Jones. “Our associates continue to work hard every day to make shopping a pleasure at Publix.”
Publix blamed the sales drop on the calendar, but the Lakeland-based grocery chain may be feeling the impacts of relentless competition for consumers' grocery dollars. Food deflation also likely hurt results.
Publix has spent most of the last decades keeping shoppers loyal based on a reputation for great customer service. During that time, many competitors have moved in to its turf, including Aldi, Trader Joe's, Sprouts, Lucky's, not to mention mass and independent retailers expanding their food offerings. Also during that time, the economy has deteriorated, shopper behavior has changed and more people are seeking healthier foods at cheaper prices.
Publix is privately owned and operated by its 190,000 employees, with 2016 sales of $34 billion. Currently Publix has 1,144 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina.