Lighting, Placements, Services, Location and Pricing!
It appears that the early expansion - demographics of the cities and neighborhoods could easily digest the Whole Foods Mantra. As expansion started moving into Upper Middle class and Middle class neighborhood- Services and Pricing started hurting the traffic.
A couple of minor things: Food Court - local businesses and eateries: good concept- unfortunately the services and pricing doesn't seem to match the Whole Food concept. Either they are expanding into areas like Silicon Valley where labor market is already tight or juts that Whole Foods Market is not taking the time and effort to train the third party suppliers to live upto the expectation of a high priced establishment.
To be a Nordstrom like in the Food Market- you not only have the look and feel - but also the qualit and service that goes with it.
Granted a few experiences in a few shops in Silicon Valley is not a theory-but looking at the numbers and the growth...it appears this is more than an exception.
Lowering the size nad cost to compete locally in a new umbrella could provide some cushion - but unless they revamp their services and training model in existing stores- this could be a long leg to shave!