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Natural Grocers Sees Net Sales, Comps Increase In 3Q

Natural Grocers results, seafood department
Natural Grocers opened a store in Spokane, Washington, on April 26.

For its fiscal third quarter ended June 30, Lakewood, Colorado-based Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage on Aug. 1 reported that net sales increased $11.3 million, or 5.3 percent, to $224.4 million vs. the 2018 third quarter.

The net sales increase, according to the grocer, primarily was driven by a $5.1 million increase in comparable store sales and a $6.9 million increase in new store sales, partially offset by a $0.6 million decrease in sales from one store closed during the first quarter of 2019.

Daily average comparable store sales increased 2.4 percent vs. a 5.2 percent increase in the third quarter of fiscal 2018. The daily average comparable store sales increase during the third quarter of fiscal 2019 reflected a 3.0 percent increase in daily average transaction size, partially offset by a 0.6 percent decrease in daily average transaction count. Daily average mature store sales increased 1.7 percent in the third quarter of fiscal 2019 compared to a 2.3 percent increase in the third quarter of fiscal 2018. (For fiscal 2019, mature stores include all stores open during or before fiscal 2014.)

Operating income in the third quarter was up 2.0 percent vs. last year’s quarter to $3.8 million, and net income increased 0.4 percent to $2.0 million.

“We continued to effectively execute against our marketing and operational excellence initiatives during the third quarter, delivering continued positive daily average comparable store sales growth and continued leverage on store expenses,” said Kemper Isely, co-president. “Given our strong performance year to date, we are increasing the midpoint of our diluted earnings per share outlook and narrowing our daily average comparable store sales guidance. Our differentiated model, commitment to our founding principles, leadership in delivering the highest quality natural and organic products and consumer experience continue to resonate with our customers.”

During the third quarter of fiscal 2019, Natural Grocers opened no new stores and relocated two stores. During last year’s third quarter, two new stores were opened and one store was relocated.

 

Year-to-date results

For the first nine months of fiscal 2019, net sales increased $44.9 million, or 7.1 percent, to $676.4 million compared to the same period in fiscal 2018, primarily driven by a $22.4 million increase in comparable store sales and a $24.3 million increase in new store sales, partially offset by a $1.8 million decrease in sales from one store that closed during the first quarter of 2019. Daily average comparable store sales increased 3.6 percent in the first nine months of fiscal 2019 compared to a 5.7 percent increase in the first nine months of fiscal 2018. The daily average comparable store sales increase during the first nine months of fiscal 2019 reflected a 3.2 percent increase in average transaction size and a 0.3 percent increase in daily average transaction count. Daily average mature store sales increased 2.4 percent in the first nine months of fiscal 2019 compared to a 2.7 percent increase in the first nine months of fiscal 2018.

During the third quarter of fiscal 2019, the company relocated two stores, ending the quarter with a total store count of 152 stores in 19 states. The company’s two relocations during the third quarter of fiscal 2019, compared to opening two new stores and relocating one store in the third quarter of fiscal 2018, resulted in 3.4 percent and 5.0 percent unit growth rates for the 12-month periods ended June 30, 2019, and June 30, 2018, respectively. Since June 30, 2019, the company has relocated one store.

During the third quarter of fiscal 2019, the company purchased the land and building on which it plans to open one new store. Since June 30, the grocer has purchased the land and building for another new store. Leases also have been signed for six new stores in Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon and Washington. These are expected to open during fiscal 2019 and beyond.

Founded in 1955, Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Inc. is a specialty retailer of natural and organic groceries and dietary supplements whose products must meet strict quality guidelines. The grocery products sold by Natural Grocers may not contain artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or sweeteners, or partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils. The company sells only USDA certified organic produce and exclusively pasture-raised, non-confinement dairy products, and free-range eggs. Natural Grocers’ flexible smaller-store format allows it to offer affordable prices in a shopper-friendly retail environment. The company also provides extensive free science-based nutrition education programs to help customers make informed health and nutrition choices.

About the author

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Lorrie Griffith

An observer of the grocery industry since 1988. Away from her editor job, she's a wife and mother of two grown sons and thinks cooking is (usually) relaxing.

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