Ongoing supply chain issues aren't only creating grocery shortages and shipping delays. The economy took a big hit during the pandemic, and subsequent inflation caused the Consumer Price Index to rise more than 6% year over year this fall. Grocery stores have been feeling the heat for a few months, and some of the higher costs are now being handed off to customers at America's largest grocery chain.
Chief Financial Officer Gary Millerchip said Kroger was carefully managing inflation on an earnings call with investors on Dec. 2 and "passing along higher cost to the customer where it makes sense to do so."
Though Millerchip didn't specify which items would be more expensive, he noted that specific items would not be subject to cost increases.
"In some key areas, we are choosing not to pass through cost increases and continuing to invest in value for the customer," he said. "We are investing where it matters most, using our proprietary data to be strategic in our pricing and personalization with the objective of winning long-term customer loyalty."
Kroger did see profits go up recently, though not as a result of rising prices. Thanksgiving boosted ready-to-eat food purchases, Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said on the call.
"Customers are demonstrating more back-to-normal behaviors and at the same time are eating more food at home because it's more affordable, convenient, and healthier than other options, plus you can do it as a family," he added. "This was evidenced by our Thanksgiving holiday shopping behavior. Customers engaged in larger celebrations with friends and family compared to last year. We also saw them continuing to cook at home, leading up to and during the holiday, and select more premium products to elevate the food experience."
All this to say, don't be surprised if you see higher price tags on certain items as you shop this holiday season. Though it remains unclear how long the ongoing supply chain issues will impact grocery prices, President Joe Biden recently met with leaders from Kroger, Walmart, and other top retailers to address food shortages head-on.
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