Competition and Consolidation Reduce Grocery Jobs

Discussion
Jun 27, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


There are fewer grocery store jobs to go around in the Carolinas. That is the conclusion of an article in The Charlotte Observer.


In North Carolina, the number of employees working in supermarkets dropped 11 percent between 2001 and 2003.


In South Carolina during the same period, the number of jobs shrunk by nine percent.


The recent announcement by Winn-Dixie that it is closing unprofitable stores and exiting some markets entirely will only increase the number of industry jobs lost in the two states.


According to John Challenger, chief executive of the outplacement firm of Challenger, Gray and Christmas, Winn-Dixie’s planned job cuts (22,000) puts it only behind General Motors (25,000) for U.S. companies that have announced plans to downsize.


Over the longer term, supermarket industry jobs are expected to remain relatively stable, although the trend is for stores to look to fill staffing needs through more part-time positions. By using part-timers, stores can keep wages and other employee expenses such as healthcare benefits low.


Moderator’s Comment: How will competition and consolidation
impact the future of the job market in grocery retailing? Do the industry’s
current labor practices discourage employees (potential employees) from considering
a career in grocery retailing?

George Anderson – Moderator

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

4 Comments on "Competition and Consolidation Reduce Grocery Jobs"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
David Livingston
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

First we need to define what a grocery store is. Is it a supercenter, a club store, a limited assortment store, etc? With growing sales and a growing population, I don’t believe the number of grocery jobs is declining. I do believe the number of jobs in traditional grocery retailing is declining. If I had a choice to go work for one of those sterile supermarket chains (you will find them on the NYSE) or to go work for Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, WinCo, Publix, HEB or any other progressive and growing grocer, the choice is obvious. The current labor practices of the sterile chains is discouraging. You are either a low wage part-timer or belong to a union with a complicated labor contract that reduces your job security. This is not a problem we should be worrying about. The companies that are building better mousetraps will absorb any qualified labor force that gets displaced.

Len Lewis
Guest
Len Lewis
15 years 8 months ago
Retailing–including supermarkets all over the country–have long relied on a largely part time workforce which has been viewed as an endless supply of relatively cheap labor. But there’s an old saying that you get what you pay for. Part timers will always be key to the industry and, with the influx of immigrants, I doubt if the industry at large will have any problem filling entry level positions. However, this industry, as others, has yet to come to grips with the fact that employees are an asset and not just another cost item on the P&L. It is cheaper to keep good people than to keep up with the extraordinarily high rate of turnover in the industry. There are lots of studies to back this up. There are some exceptions, but by and large supermarkets have done little to create a career path for people. They give a kid a pair of insulated gloves and a box cutter and tell him to pack out the frozen food section. Or, they put someone at a register… Read more »
Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
15 years 8 months ago
Grocery careers are under attack from a variety of perspectives as retailers work to reduce the “number one controllable expense in the store.” Not only are consolidations a factor, but the increased use of automation (self checkout) and the expanded use of central preparation (meat, deli, and home meal replacement) will continue to reduce the number of in-store jobs. The ultimate of course is the impact of the internet and the online stores that eliminate the brick and mortar operation all together. Grocery retail jobs were always an opportunity for those with a good work ethic and desire to succeed, but without the advanced degrees needed to be a “rocket scientist.” Store employees need to be good ambassadors for the company and those in supervision need to know how to handle a variety of personalities. The increased use of part-timers makes sense until it reaches the point where the personality of the store gets lost and there is no longer anything that distinguishes it to the consumer. I don’t know what the specific practices are… Read more »
Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
15 years 8 months ago
When grocery stores – whether supermarkets, convenience stores, etc. – aren’t busy with many customers requiring fulfillment, many other things happen. Management most frequently looks to the bottom line rather than the top line and cuts hours, has layoffs, etc. In such circumstances, many workers become further disenchanted with their employers, their physical work, etc. This sets the stage for a Lose-Lose situation for many retail operators and, of course, their store associates. “Things” in supermarketing took a very dramatic turn in 1986 when Wal-Mart opened its first supercenter in Washington, MO. It signaled a forthcoming change in how food and groceries would be sold at various levels in the future and how the labor forces would be constructed and sustained without too much concern for workers’ quality of work life. Psychologically, when the mind isn’t busy and has time to drift and reflect curiously, it is easy for it to judge the surrounding environment as being uninviting as well as tenuous. That also creates potentially indifferent service. This suggests to this panelist that a… Read more »
wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

Do the industry’s current labor practices discourage employees (potential employees) from considering a career in grocery retailing?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...