Kroger on Friday said shoppers filled up large baskets of groceries in the fiscal second quarter. They bought bigger items, such as 24-packs of toilet paper. And they replenished fridges frequently, as they cooked more meals at home.
The company’s same-store sales, a key industry metric, were down 0.6% in the three-month period nearly matching the heightened level of grocery sales during the year-ago period. It raised its outlook for the rest of the year.
CEO Rodney McMullen said on an earnings call that “food-at-home trends remain sticky.” He said sales grew year over year in the produce, floral, deli and bakery departments, even as it went up against challenging comparisons.
But the company is under pressure from higher supply chain costs, rising levels of theft and increasing food prices, according to Kroger Chief Financial Officer Gary Millerchip. He said the grocer must pay more for transportation and warehouse space. He said that will continue in the second half of the year.
Plus, the grocer is facing inflation. Like other retailers, Kroger has had to debate when to increase prices for customers and when to eat the cost. Millerchip said the grocer has discounted products selectively to attract shoppers.