Fast Company

Fish on Friday: Two Dramatic Statistics Bracket Today’s Sweet & Sour Economy

Recent news from Whole Foods and IBM seem to capture -- in very personal ways -- both how deeply serious the short term pain in this economy is going to be, and how amazingly regenerative the economy is likely to be.

Two numbers leap out of the recent news that seem to capture — in very personal ways — both how deeply serious the short term pain in this economy is going to be, and how amazingly regenerative the economy is likely to be.

The pain first. Earlier this week, Whole Foods Market, which runs the nation’s most entrancing and most expensive grocery stores, reported profits for its most recent quarter. The bottom line for Whole Foods in the months of July, August, and September?

$1.5 million in total profit.

Whole Foods has 278 stores, and its fourth quarter ran 12 weeks. A little math, and you quickly discover that each store made profit of $449.64 a week. That’s of $64 a day for each store — $6.40 an hour in profit, if the store is open 10 hours.

Talking about living lean.

Yes, Whole Foods’ quarter included some one-time charges, but the next time you’re in your local Whole Foods, pondering both the prices and the experience, remember that the whole place could be earning the company less than minimum wage. And if you spend enough, you could easily provide the profit for the hour.

The second number comes from the speech IBM CEO Sam Palmisano gave yesterday in New York, arguing that the economic downturn is precisely the time to invest in the kinds of cutting edge technologies that will turbo-charge the global economy when things turn up again. Palmisano outlined a world that’s not just digitized and interconnected and flat, but also smart. (He wants to sell companies and countries the technologies to make everything from water pipes to cows smart.)

He said that by 2010, there will be 1 billion transistors per person in the world.

Which raises a great question: What are you doing with your 1 billion transistors?

Somehow, reading the Drudge Report doesn’t seem quite enough.

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1 Comments

  • A. Lapre

    Ouch. I can only just about afford the pretzels at Whole Foods, but do hope they can raise their profitability before they are down and out for too long.