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May 22, 2019 12:30:00 PM

Stop & Shop Strike: 10% of Loyal Customers Still Stay Away

Posted by Skyhook

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It has been approximately one month since the recent Stop & Shop employee strike ended. To recap, on April 11, 2019, about 31,000 Stop & Shop workers walked out of the 240+ stores located across Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island after failing to agree to a new contract between the grocer and the union representing the workers. Stop & Shop employees were protesting wage and benefit cuts and changes to their health care plans. The strike endured for eleven days, finally ending on April 21st after the parties involved came to a tentative agreement.
Skyhook previously conducted a foot traffic analysis to measure the impact the strike was having on Stop & Shop and other grocery stores throughout those three states. Skyhook identified a group of loyal customers by performing an analysis of anonymized mobile devices that typically visited Stop & Shop at least once per week. That analysis found that loyal customer visits to Stop & Shop went down 75% during the first three days of strike (4/12-4/14) compared to the previous week (4/5-4/7). 
Since our initial analysis focused on the immediate impact of the strike, we conducted a follow-up review of the same anonymous loyal customers to determine if the strike had produced any behavioral changes in their grocery shopping habits. 
This time around, we compared the foot traffic of loyal customers during the 11-day period prior to the strike (3/28-4/7), 11 days during the strike (4/11-4/21) and the same 11-day period post strike (4/25-5/5). All of these dates are comparing Thursday to the following Sunday to match the days of the strike. We also looked at the three weeks following the end of the strike to see the most recent findings. 

Here’s what we found:  

Visits During the Strike 

Similar to our previous analysis and analyzing the same group of loyal customers, we found that visits from the loyal cohort to Stop & Shop dropped 76% during the 11 days of the strike compared to the same 11-day period before. 

 During the full strike, competing grocery stores saw a noticeable increase in foot traffic from this same cohort. Stop & Shop’s loyal customers didn't want to cross the picket line and therefore went to competing grocery stores instead. Also similar to our previous analysis, Hannaford’s, Shaw’s & Star Market and Market Basket saw the biggest increases in foot traffic. Interestingly, Hannaford’s is owned by the same parent company as Stop & Shop, Ahold Delhaize. 

Visits After The Strike

The analysis shows that the impact on Stop & Shop was not merely limited to during the strike, but continued even after it ended as well. During the 11-day period after the strike, we found that loyal visits were down 23% compared to the 11-day period before the strike. 

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Also in the 11-day period post-strike, Hannaford’s, Shaw’s & Star Market and Trader Joe’s still saw an increase of visits from loyal Stop & Shop customers compared to the 11-day period before the strike. It’s also important to note that Trader Joe’s and Hannaford’s numbers were lower to begin with as they have fewer locations, thus magnifying the effect of the change. 
But not all grocers saw an increase post-strike, loyal visits to some competing grocery stores normalized. Visits to Market Basket and PriceRite went back to about the same level as they were before the strike. 

Three Weeks Following The Strike - Number of Loyal Customers

In addition to total customer visits, we also looked at customer counts. We found that 90.6% of the original loyal customers went to Stop & Shop at least once, meaning about 10% have not yet returned. About 71% of the loyal cohort are back to their normal shopping habits and have visited three or more times. 

The Bottomline

In the fierce food retail market, customer loyalty is everything. Based on these findings, we estimate that about 10% of loyal Stop & Shop customers failed to return in the three weeks following the strike and visits are down. If this group of loyal customers continue to stay away, it could have a damaging effect on Stop & Shop’s bottom line. 
Please contact Melissa Burke at if you have any questions or inquiries regarding the analysis. 
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