FTC Lets Amazon-Whole Foods Merger Go Forward

By William Vogeler, Esq. on August 28, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Why would anyone buy their groceries from an online retailer?

Amazon has about 13.7 billion reasons. The online company is closing a deal to purchase Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion and is kicking off its new ownership by slashing prices the same day.

The massive double-sale occurs on Monday at 470 stores, crossing more states than the last solar eclipse. The company isn't telling its new prices, but says Amazon Prime members will get even bigger discounts.

'Integrated Logistics'

"This is just the beginning -- Amazon and Whole Foods Market plan to offer more in-store benefits and lower prices for customers over time as the two companies integrate logistics and point-of-sale merchandising systems," Amazon said in a press release.

Sales-talk translation: your Amazon and your Whole Foods accounts will be combined. Or in other words, expect to see your preferred foods show up in ads on your computer and mobile devices.

That scenario helped spur the opposition when Amazon's Jeff Bezos announced the purchase. Shareholders proposed a class-action to block the deal, and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union complained it would reduce competition.

"Amazon's proposed purchase of Whole Foods could impact neighborhood grocery stores and hardworking consumers across America," said Rep. David Cicilline, a ranking member of the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee. He called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the deal.

Clean-Up In Aisles Everywhere

The FTC took a quick look at it, but signed off in time for the planned takeover. After Walmart and Kroger, the new Whole Foods will have about two percent of the grocery market.

Lee McKnight, a professor at Syracuse University's school of information studies, says every other grocer should be concerned. He said Amazon has created a "new breed of cyber physical retailers."

With self-driving cars, drones, and more robots in the future, who knows what the next big thing will bring? Probably a bag of groceries.

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