The Kroger Co. engages in the operation of retail food and drug stores, multi-department stores, jewellery stores, and convenience stores. It also manufactures and processes some of the food for sale in its supermarkets. The combination food and drug Stores are the primary food store format. The multi department stores sells a wide selection of general merchandise items such as apparel, home fashion and furnishings, electronics, automotive products, toys and fine jewellery. The marketplace stores offer full-service grocery and pharmacy departments as well as an expanded general merchandise area that includes outdoor living products, electronics, home goods and toys. The price impact warehouse stores offer a 'no-frills, low cost' warehouse format and feature everyday low prices plus promotions for a wide selection of grocery and health and beauty care items. The company was founded by Barney Kroger in 1883 and is headquartered in Cincinnati, OH.
Total sales were $37.3 billion in the first quarter of 2019, compared to $37.7 billion for the first quarter of 2018. This decrease was due to the sale of our convenience store business unit and a decrease in supermarket fuel sales, partially offset by our increase in total sales to retail customers without fuel. Total sales, excluding fuel and the effect of selling our convenience store business unit, increased 2.0% in the first quarter of 2019, compared to the first quarter of 2018. The increase in total sales to retail customers without fuel for the first quarter of 2019, compared to the first quarter of 2018, was primarily due to our merger with Home Chef and our identical sales increase, excluding fuel, of 1.5%. Identical sales, excluding fuel, for the first quarter of 2019, compared to the first quarter of 2018, increased primarily due to changes in product mix, including higher quality products at a higher price point, retail inflation and Kroger Specialty Pharmacy sales growth, partially offset by our continued investments in lower prices for our customers. Total supermarket fuel sales decreased 3.6% in the first quarter of 2019, compared to the first quarter of 2018, primarily due to a decrease in fuel gallons sold of 3.3% and a decrease in the average retail fuel price of 0.4%. The decrease in the average retail fuel price was caused by a decrease in the product cost of fuel.