Shares of Blue Apron Holdings (NYSE:APRN), a meal delivery company that sends consumers fresh seasonal ingredients with recipes, were down over 13% Monday afternoon as Amazon.com continues to shake up the grocery industry.
Amazon's foray into the grocery industry through its Whole Foods Market acquisition in 2017 has forced grocers to lower prices and to innovate delivery options and other solutions for consumers. Amazon is clearly not done yet, and it appears the e-commerce giant is ready to deal another blow to the industry and surrounding companies such as Blue Apron.
Amazon plans to open dozens of grocery stores in multiple major U.S. cities that will be outside of its Whole Foods brand, according to The Wall Street Journal. Amazon plans to open the first location in Los Angeles and possibly two more in early 2020. Amazon is even considering acquiring regional grocery chains with roughly 12 stores to help accelerate its expansion.
The move makes sense for Amazon, because its expansion will focus on lower-price products versus its Whole Foods stores, enabling the company to avoid cannibalization of sales. And Amazon can develop these new stores for online grocery orders, be it pickup or delivery, which will aid the company's efforts in the online grocery battle. Amazon's expanding grocery strategy obviously pressures traditional brick-and-mortar grocers, but it's also devastating to investors in meal delivery companies that have little to no chance of ever competing with Amazon's scale or distribution network.
Today's decline adds to the growing concern facing Blue Apron investors after the stock recently plunged when Bloomberg reported 15 million shares were being offered at a discount to the price at the time, as well as a disappointing earnings report from its new partner, WW International (formerly Weight Watchers). The truth is simple: If Amazon continues to expand into online grocery, meal-kit delivery companies will continue feeling the pain.