It has officially been one week since 31,000 Stop & Shop employees walked out of the 240+ stores across Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island after failing to agree to a new contract between the grocer and the union representing the New England workers. Stop & Shop employees are protesting wage and benefit cuts and changes to their health care plans. Stop & Shop is the last fully-unionized grocer in New England, andthe grocer has said it is proposing these changes in order to stay competitive in the fundamentally changing food retailmarket.
Stop & Shop’s CEO said in a statement that most stores remain open, but that the bakery, deli and seafood counters are not operational. The workers who are striking outside the stores are urging customers to shop elsewhere and to not cross the picket line.
Most customers appear to be siding with the employees, and many parking lots in MA have remained mostly empty since the strike started. To get an idea of how the strike is impacting customers and their shopping trends, Skyhook conducted an analysis of foot traffic to understand the real impact that the strike is having on both Stop & Shop stores and other major grocery store chains in MA, CT and RI. To do this, Skyhook identified a group of loyal customers by analyzing anonymized mobile devices that typically visit Stop & Shop once per week. We looked to see if those customers stopped shopping at Stop & Shop locations during this time frame and went to a different grocery store instead. The results were intriguing:
On the first days of the strike(4/12-4/14),many customers did not go grocery shopping. The number of visits from loyal Stop & Shop customersto all grocery stores declined about 50% compared to 4/5-4/7. Loyal customer visits to Stop & Shop declined by 75%.
This graph represents the decreased foot traffic at Stop & Shop locations in orange and increased foot traffic in blue between 4/12-4/14. The larger, darker dots represent a larger change in foot traffic.
Loyal Stop & Shop customers who did go grocery shopping between 4/12 and 4/14 went to competitors' locations. Most notably, Hannafords saw a 300% increase of foot traffic from loyal Stop & Shop customers, Market Basket saw a 115% increase, Trader Joe’s saw a 75% increase and Shaw’s and Star Market saw a 50% increase.
We spoke with Ali Rondeau, a Braintree, MA resident and loyal Stop & Shop customer to get her input on the strike. Instead of crossing the picket line, Ali said she has been going to Trader Joe’s for small trips to hold her over but will go to Whole Foods sometime this week to do a bigger shop. As evidenced by the data, Ali is among many Stop & Shop customers who are not shopping while the strike is taking place. Ali commented“if a satisfying agreement is reached and the issues are resolved, I will probably go back”, but until then, she’ll be shopping at other grocery stores.
As of Thursday, April 18th, the negotiations between Stop & Shop and United Food and Commercial Worker’s Union are still ongoing.