Restaurants

Panera Bread is selling groceries as restaurant sales plummet

Key Points
  • Panera Bread is selling breads, bagels, milk, yogurt, cream cheese and fresh produce directly to customers.
  • Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary said the chain lost half its business once its dining rooms closed.
  • Grocery sales have surged 73% year over year, Black Box Intelligence found.
A Panera Bread shop displays a sign they are open amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 5, 2020 in New York City.
John Lamparski | Getty Images

Panera Bread is selling groceries as housebound consumers eat fewer meals from restaurants. 

Customers are able to order breads, bagels, milk, yogurt, cream cheese and fresh produce as part of an initiative that began Monday.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many restaurants to shutter their dining rooms temporarily. Restaurant transactions plunged 42% during the week ended March 29 compared with a year ago, according to the NPD Group. 

Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary said the chain lost half its business once its dining rooms closed.

The grocery initiative was devised two weeks ago as a way to address consumers' needs for groceries and to help Panera's sales. As U.S. consumers try to limit their exposure to the virus, grocery sales have surged 73% from last year, Black Box Intelligence found. E-commerce grocers are struggling to address the skyrocketing demand. 

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"It's a win for our associates because we will be able to keep our cafes open longer, and it's great from a business standpoint because it should be incremental profit and revenue for us at a time when we desperately need it," Chaudhary said.

The privately held sandwich chain, which is owned by Krispy Kreme's parent JAB Holding, does not disclose financial results. Chaudhary said Panera has furloughed some employees in the field and support center.

Customers can order groceries on Panera's app, its website or through Grubhub. Their orders can be delivered or picked up at a Panera location. 

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