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Amazon Vowed to Make Whole Foods Cheaper. Let's See How That's Going.

Amazon.com Inc.'s takeover of Whole Foods Market began six weeks ago with a lot of fanfare about lower prices.

And while the grocery chain has strategically marked down select items like avocados and almond milk, overall prices have dropped very slightly - about 1 percent - since Amazon took ownership, according to an analysis by research firm Gordon Haskett.

The firm tracked prices on 110 items over five weeks at a Whole Foods location in Princeton, N.J., and found that, on average, prices are down 1.2 percent since Amazon finalized its $13.7bn purchase of the grocer. (Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, owns the Washington Post.)

And although Amazon offered discounts on a number of items right away, some of those prices have crept back up, according to the data. The price of frozen foods, for example, was 7-percent higher on Sept. 26 than on Aug. 28, when Amazon officially took over. Snack items rose 5.3 percent in that period, and dairy and yogurt were up 2 percent. (Among categories where prices are lower: beverages, down about 2.8 percent; bread and bakery, down 6.8 percent; and produce, down 0.5 percent.)

Whole Foods — nicknamed by some as “whole paycheck” — has struggled for years to shed its reputation for overpricing. The company’s prices have historically been about 15-percent higher than at the average grocery store, according to Morgan Stanley.

Amazon seized on that long-standing customer complaint by announcing that its first move would be to cut prices. From the beginning, the company said customers would see a series of discounted staples at local stores: extra-large brown eggs for $3.19 instead of $3.49, organic apples for $1.99 a pound instead of $2.99 and Haas avocados for $1.49 apiece instead of $2.

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