When Amazon.com Inc. bought Whole Foods last year, investors panicked and dumped shares in Kroger, Sprouts Farmers Market and even Walmart. The fear was that the e-commerce leviathan would disrupt yet another industry. Since then, the concerns have subsided as investors and analysts came to recognize that it will be years before Amazon becomes a major player in the $800 billion industry. Meanwhile, traditional grocers have more than managed to hold their own.
Still, there are already hints that the fabled Amazon effect is boosting Whole Foods, which had been losing ground to rivals as organic food went mainstream. In more than 100 places around the U.S., the upscale grocer gained foot traffic at the expense of Trader Joe’s, Walgreen and Dollar Tree Stores in the past year. . . . more