​For Whole Foods, another disappointing quarter

NEW YORK - Whole Foods Market (WFM) said quarterly sales at established locations (those open for more than a year, or same-store sales) fell for the fourth straight quarter, as it fights to distinguish itself from competitors that are also offering organic and natural foods.

The Austin, Texas-based company said Wednesday the sales figure was down 2.6 percent for the three months ended July 3 as customer visits declined. For the current quarter so far, same-store sales are down 2.4 percent.

Co-CEO Walter Robb noted in a statement that the most recent decline marked an improvement from the previous quarter, when the figure fell 3 percent.

The company's shares were nevertheless trading more than 5 percent lower at $31.87 in aftermarket trading on Wednesday following the results' release.

To broaden its appeal, Whole Foods is working on keeping prices low, in part by pushing more of its 365 house-brand products. It has also been opening a new chain named after 365 that would compete more squarely with Trader Joe's.

That chain would be on top of Whole Foods' 455 namesake stores.

For the quarter, Whole Foods Market earned $120 million, or 37 cents per share, in line with Wall Street expectations. Total revenue was $3.7 billion, just short of the $3.72 billion analysts expected, according to FactSet.