NEW YORK — Whole Foods is hitting the brakes on its ambitious expansion plans as sales keep dropping at existing stores.

The grocer reported its sixth straight quarter of falling sales at established locations on Wednesday, as organic and natural products have become more widely available at traditional supermarkets. The company said it no longer sees potential for 1,200 locations, up from the roughly 470 it has in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

It said it will close nine stores in the current quarter, while opening only six new stores, including two relocations. The company noted that it still has dozens of stores in the pipeline and that it will continue to grow, but that it will be more careful about signing new leases.