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Regional wholesaler Unified Grocers, Inc. cited consumer uncertainty as a factor in a drop in sales and profits for its first fiscal quarter ended January 1, 2011.
"There continues to be much uncertainty among consumers in the marketplace and this has caused them to hold back on spending," said Al Plamann, president and CEO, Unified Grocers. "While there have been times in which consumers were willing to spend a little more — like during the holidays — these periods have generally been short-lived and many have since refocused their attention on lower cost items, deals and coupons.”
The Los Angeles-based cooperative reported net sales of $980.3 million for the quarter, down from $999.8 million last year, attributing this sales decrease to overall weak economic conditions, including a shift in customer demand towards lower cost items. The decrease in net sales was partially offset by additional sales generated from new customers in fiscal 2011. It saw earnings of $3.6 million for the quarter, down slightly from $3.7 million last year.
"It is possible, however, to be successful in this business climate," Plamann said. "Our independents, for example, are succeeding in this environment because they are willing to differentiate themselves from their competition in the marketplace. Being close to your customers and finding unique and different ways to meet their needs at store level is a decided advantage today."
Founded in 1922, Unified Grocers is a retailer-owned wholesale grocery distributor that supplies independent retailers throughout the western United States.