Against a backdrop of persistent concern about the economy, Wegmans has once again announced a freeze on prices effective Sunday, January 8, through April 28 for a list of more than 50 products families use most. (Counting all flavors/varieties, the total number of items – SKUs – affected is 223.)
This move follows the expiration of a list of 40 items, with prices guaranteed through the end of 2011, introduced in February of last year. Wegmans reported that the cost to the company for absorbing cost increases in order to hold prices on the 40-items was over $8 million.
“Customers wrote us, or stopped us in the store, to say how much easier it was to budget and shop knowing they could count on prices for an extended period of time,” says Colleen Wegman, president. “With that kind of feedback, there was no question that we would come back with another list, but we thought it was important to include what customers purchase at this time of year.”
Wegman also made a point of reiterating the company’s overall commitment to low prices. “While we can’t freeze prices on every product we sell, it’s important to say that beyond this list, we will keep our prices low.”
Twenty-seven of the items on that original list are also on the new list, and 25 new items have been added. The new list takes into account seasonality by including such things as condensed and ready-to-serve canned soups, navel oranges, and several cough and cold over-the-counter medications. It also incorporates categories that were not part of last year’s list, like bread and paper products.
“The food industry is still confronted with high commodity prices, energy costs, and global demand pressures,” says Jo Natale, director of media relations. “The picture for 2012 is a bit murky, but there’s no prediction that costs will drop any time soon, and it’s more probable they will rise.” The company has guaranteed that the retail prices for products on this list will not increase through April 28, even if costs go up.
Some items did not carry over to the new list, according to Natale, because costs have risen so much, it was no longer prudent for Wegmans to guarantee a retail price. Examples of these are peanut butter, canned tuna, and coffee.
Once again, the list is almost exclusively made up of Wegmans brand products. Natale explained that the company can be more aggressive with pricing for Wegmans brand.