Publix Takes Different Approach to Thanksgiving

ATLANTA - Regional grocer Publix gave its employees here the day off on Thanksgiving, in a move analysts see as helping the grocer to differentiate itself.

Publix touted its decision to close for the holiday in a radio ad last week that explained the company was taking a break to allow its associates to enjoy the day.

Meanwhile one of Publix's main competitors, Kroger, advertised the fact that it would be open, providing its shoppers convenience.

Shoppers surveyed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution differed in their opinions of Publix's descision. While some said they appreciate the nod to "family values," others said they preferred the convenience of having their supermarket open for business.

Grocery analyst Neil Stern, with McMillan/Doolittle in Chicago, said he found both Kroger's and Publix's marketing approaches "telling," regarding the current state of competition in the grocery business.

"It's very reflective of the company strategies and core values," he added. "For Publix it's their fundamental belief that great customer service starts with commitment and employees. For Kroger their strategy is 'we'll do whatever we can to satisfy our customers --- or to ring up some extra sales.'"

Kroger spokeswoman Nancy Scott said it is Kroger's "philosophy" to be available for customers' convenience. Kroger stores do close early Christmas Eve and are closed on Christmas, she said.

Scott also noted that employees work shorter shifts on holidays. "It's teamwork," she said. "We're a big family working together."

Publix was unavailable for comment.
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