Last year marked another challenging one for natural product retailers, with sales growth slumping into the low single digits, competition from conventional grocers and online sellers intensifying, and Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods Market casting an air of uncertainty among already worried independents.
In all, the maturing $149 billion natural products market grew by about 6 percent, a far cry from the double-digit gains of five years ago. Internet sales (while still a fairly thin slice of the pie) grew an impressive 12 percent, dwarfing the 7 percent gain conventional grocers saw and the mere 3 percent year-over-year sales increase for brick-and-mortar natural retailers.