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Albertsons CEO sees 'a lot of upside' as pivot to omnichannel accelerates amid pandemic

Julia La Roche
·2 min read

Grocery giant Albertsons Cos. (ACI) CEO Vivek Sankaran says the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated changes in the way people shop online and in stores.

“I always imagined that omnichannel will get to 10% penetration in the market around 2025. I think that will be pulled forward. People started engaging in omnichannel because of the pandemic, and now they’re seeing the value in it because of convenience,” Sankaran told Yahoo Finance.

Albertsons Cos., the grocery and pharmacy retail operator, operates 2,252 stores, including brands like Safeway and Acme.

Albertsons, which offers DriveUp & Go curbside pickup, is gaining new customers because of that service. The grocer is also seeing is omnichannel customers buy bigger baskets in the early innings.

FILE - In this photo made, June 21, 2010 file photo, Red Bull and other drinks are on display at a Safeway in San Ramon, Calif. Safeway has agreed to be acquired by an investment group led by Cerberus Capital Management, the owner several supermarket chains. The acquisition of is worth about $7.64 billion in cash, and pending other transactions could top more than $9 billion. The deal, announced late Thursday,March 6, 2014, will bring together Safeway and Albertsons, one of the five chains that Cerberus bought from Supervalu Inc. last year. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

“We have a lot more headroom,” Sankaran added, pointing out that the curbside offering is currently at 950 stores with plans to expand to 1,800 locations in the next 12 to 18 months.

“We see a lot of upside. We see that as being part of the repertoire with how consumers shop the store in the future. It’ll just be how we do things every day,” the executive added.

There’s no reason to panic when it comes to the food supply Vivek Sankaran, CEO of Albertsons Cos.

Meanwhile, as new coronavirus infections accelerate, shoppers are again buying essentials, but not to the extent they were at the beginning of the pandemic.

“I wouldn’t say it’s back like March/April. It’s not that way. We were ready. We expected consumers would shop differently when we got to the second wave,” Sankaran said.

“We are seeing consumers shopping a lot more of paper goods, cleaning supplies, disinfectants, the usual things. But we’re not seeing yet the surge in shopping in other areas of the store.”

Sankaran also observed that shoppers are getting a head start on shopping for the Thanksgiving holiday.

“What we’re seeing is people pulling up some of the Thanksgiving shopping to a week earlier,” Sankaran added.

According to Sankaran, the grocery giant is selling more turkeys, albeit smaller ones than a year ago, as families opt for more intimate gatherings during the pandemic.

“But I want to make sure people know that there’s plenty of food. There’s no reason to panic when it comes to the food supply,” the CEO added.

Julia La Roche is a correspondent for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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