Ever wonder why you pay so much for groceries? Informative - The grocery business in general

Review by Anonymous on 2003-11-22
I have several posts on this site concerning grocery stores in general. Poor service, lack of product, high prices, etc. Have you ever heard people say, “remember when grocery stores had friendly people as employees?” This might give you an insight as to where your money goes when you buy groceries and why the people they take your money in the stores might not seem “friendly”:

Most grocery chains create high paying jobs in the form of “upper management” and “supervisors”. By creating these high paying positions they receive a major tax break by the government. The more of these high paying jobs, the bigger the tax break. When the chains find themselves lacking “profit”, they have to make “cut backs”. These “cut backs” are ALWAYS at store level. They cut the hours for employees at the stores thus saving that much money. What they really don’t seem to understand is that the people they “cut” are the ones who actually do the work for the consumer. The sad part is, roughly 85% of these people in “upper management” will not get in the stores and get their hands dirty. Why should they? A person of their “position” surely can’t be expected to “work” as a common store employee. Yet they can give orders to what store employees are left after the “cut backs” to “get the job done or be fired”. Stocking shelves in a grocery store is not rocket science, but it still takes a thinking human being to open those boxes, make sure the product in those boxes is fresh, and put the product on the shelves for the consumer. When companies “cut back” the hours for these working positions, the store itself and the patrons who shop it suffers.

Manufacturers of products you buy have what’s called “sales reps”. These are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. A “sales rep’s” job is/was to go into the stores and “monitor” their products (i.e. rotating the product for freshness, make sure all products are carried by the store, make sure the shelf space is clean, etc.). Now, the geniuses that run the grocery chains (most of them, anyway) have decided the manufacturers need to fire their sales force and give all money intended for those positions to the grocery chains themselves. They claim with this extra money, the chains can hire more people to run the stores properly. Has anyone seen that happen? This extra money does not go into the stores but into the pockets of the shareholders and upper management in various ways (some call it “bonuses”). Is it really any wonder the store employees might not be real happy with their job situation? Ever wonder why you hear stories of people “working off the clock?” If these “middle men” were done away with, the stores could operate properly and the consumer could save money by paying less for the products.

This post is not intended to be a complaint. I simply wanted to give anyone interested a little insight as to where your hard earned dollars go when you visit the grocery store. Anyone reading this post has a right, as a consumer, to ask questions. Ask the manager where you shop how their company is run. If he won’t help, go over his head. All grocery stores are run differently. Find out what goes on where you shop…then decide if you want to give them your hard earned cash.
Comments:13 Replies - Latest reply on 2005-11-30
Posted by Anonymous on 2003-11-26:
I am not aware of any special tax breaks for well compensated employees. We pay our managers well because that's what it takes to keep top notch people on staff. And despite what some people outside the business may think, hands on experience and proven ability to consistently work both hard and smart are skills worth paying a premium for every day. Low paid positions go to people who lack experience, motivation, and ability. The so called "tax incentives" come only when opening new large scale facilities that would bring in more taxes to a community in the long run, and seldom happen when a grocery store comes to town.
Posted by Anonymous on 2003-11-27:
I can tell the above poster IS a district manager of a grocery chain. He/she didn't mention anything but the tax breaks. I would say under 20% of all "upper management" (and I'm talking about mangement that is not IN a store but over several stores) DO NOT have college degrees. It is mostly based upon how much boot licking is done early in their career. I would love to challenge the above poster to address the "working off the clock" issues. It would also be nice to hear if the above poster's chain is involved with "slotting fees"...slotting fees are a charge to the manufacturer to get their products into a chain's warehouse and it is usually in the range of $20,000.00 to $30,000.00 PER ITEM. This is passed on to the consumer so the chain can make "profit". The actual store manager does make excellent money if they run their store correctly. The reason stores start going down hill is because "district mangers" and the like stop the store mangers from giving employees raises when they are deserved. If a person has proven themselves by running a tight dept. with all losses accounted for, that in itself is deserving of a raise on a yearly basis. Oh, one more thing to the above poster...I wonder how many chances a person in your company, in your territory, and working under you would have for advancement if you didn't "like" them. From what I've seen (and I've been in this business for years), the more boot licking, the greater any employee's chances are for advancing with the company. Have you ever tried to get rid of an employee because they didn't like them...even though they did their job correctly?
Posted by Anonymous on 2003-11-27:
...And to anyone who writes me off as an angry employee, I service several grocery chains and they are all basically the same. If these "middle men" were taken out, every person who works in this country (the US) and earns minimum wage couls afford groceries.
Posted by Anonymous on 2003-12-04:
Oh, by the way, the "tax breaks" I was referring to are the breaks given to YOUR company from the US government, not the community in which the store is located.
Posted by Anonymous on 2003-12-05:
You may have already noticed this, but your job is being fazed out. We are opting to take credits, which is essentially a cash equivalent, to have our own guys service your product. But I'll be the first to admit that instead of actually servicing your stuff, we keep the profit instead. We are learning from Walmart. The alternative is working you guys to death by demanding more and more, and having to hire less of our own people to do the job we should be doing anyway, and pocketing the decreased payroll expense. Happy Holidays!
Posted by Anonymous on 2003-12-05:
You're quite amusing. But you're also correct in the fact that sales reps' jobs are being fazed out. The companies are not working what sales reps that are left to death (I for one have never worked over 40 hours in one week unless overtime is involved), they are replacing them with 3rd party contract workers. Go ahead and smile now because if you think these "contract" workers will be dedicated enough to a product and to help your business, you're kidding yourself. :) Sleep tight. Oh, one more thing, there are sales reps that service Wal Mart. I happen to be one of them. The misconception you seem to have is that sales reps are there to work for YOUR company when they enter YOUR stores. We're not, we're there to represent the products that pays our check. Don't worry, I've had several "district managers" ask me to do things in their stores that had nothing to do with my product...and I happily do it incorrectly. I don't believe in helping the competition. Now, sleep tight.
Posted by Anonymous on 2003-12-06:
Thank you for being so honest. it takes a real man and a hell of a leader to admit what you did on an anonymous posting board.
Posted by Anonymous on 2003-12-08:
Since I'm admitting stuff, I got to tell you that you sales reps are among the smartest people in retail. I'm not being sarcastic either. You make a decent wage, your not stuck in the store all the time, and as you said yourself... you work only 40-hours a week. And now that you pointed it out, I do ask sales reps to do things that are not DIRECTLY related to their job. But, in my case at least, the jobs I ask them to do are indirectly related. And I do notice some of them don't do the job correctly. But the ones that do what I ask to a "T" are the ones I remember when I have upper management positions available. But come to think of it, not many of the reps I offer interviews to take me up on it. Maybe it's because I'm such a jerk...even in person when I'm not an an anoynomous website. And by the way, I really did mean happy holidays!
Posted by Anonymous on 2003-12-10:
Perhaps you should take a few minutes and evaluate the people who work under you. There is a high percentage of people who work in grocery stores for an hourly wage that care only about getting a check and not about their work quality. The people who do quality work and actually care about their job are so many times lumped in with those who don't. Something I have learned (which they never teach this in college, or any school for that matter-If a supervisor does not like you (for whatever reason, be it personal, work releated, or unattaining to work at all) you have very little chance for advancement. And don't worry, Wal Mart may be on top of the heap right now...but their day will come. Not everyone likes to shop for groceries and tires in the same store. I have heard (I don't know this) that they tried to open a chain of stores that only carried groceries and it didn't work. I'm also not trying to come of as saying the grocery business would shut down without sales reps, it's just since these "changes" have been implemented in the business, quality has dropped and the buying public are now seeing it. Happy holidatys to you as well (all sarcasm aside) :)
Posted by Anonymous on 2003-12-12:
Thanks for the advise but I don't have time to take an interest in my staff. I've gotten in trouble for that before with females I've had come over my house on the clock. I was trying to teach them about what people do with groceries when they bring them home, with the angle being their role as store employees when they know why people buy certain products. But it backfired when I my company was slapped with a lawsuit and I went on a local radio station and discussed the situation with a Los Angles talk show host. Then I start getting hate male, etc...
Posted by Anonymous on 2003-12-14:
You should give employees who work hard, do their job correctly, and run depts with little loss the promotions.......don't base it on the quality of the blow job.
Posted by Anonymous on 2003-12-19:
If anyone has been reading this thread other that the two people who have posted on here, please refer to the 5th response (by the District Manager of a large grocery chain). One important thing he/she left out of his/her statement is that grocery chains do demand help from the manufacturers of the products they buy. This is what’s referred to as “free help” in the grocery industry. The people who were once sales reps for manufacturers are now nothing but laborers for the grocery chains…only there is one catch, one VERY ILLEGAL catch: The grocery chains demand that these “free help” laborers retain the title of “sales rep” thus allowing that particular person to be placed (or remain) on salary. I personally know several people in the age bracket of 50 and above who have to work as many as 60-70 hours per week doing the exact jobs as hourly employees. The grocery chains threaten to stop buying from that particular manufacturer if they don’t provide these people as “free help” to their stores. It is the exact same scenario as applying for a stock clerk position in a store and being told you were only going to be given the job as a salaried position. No overtime and unlimited work hours. I know this for a fact because I happen to be one of those people in that position. I firmly leave the store when my 40 hours are up (and that included drive time if I ma over 25 miles from my home). When this illegal practice is exposed by the media (and it will be), get ready for grocery prices to skyrocket.
Posted by holycrap on 2005-11-30:
razor sharp profit margins, and some cashiers that are hating life. thank god for automated
checkouts, don't even have to take the sunglassed off.

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