(Editors' note: This is part four of a five-part series)
As grocery retailers attempt to better cater to younger consumers, they’re apparently concerned with having the appropriate workforce to keep them on the right path. With Millennials’ purchasing power continuing to grow and Generation Z’s not far behind, retailers are going to need to make the grocery industry more attractive as a career choice so that their talent within reflects the audience to whom they need to appeal.
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It makes sense, therefore, that retail executives responding to Progressive Grocer’s survey named labor as the top issue keeping them up at night. Replacing benefits (which dropped to No. 7) at the head of the list, recruitment, retention, diversity and training of a workforce to propel them into a new era are seen as key concerns for the coming year.
“We’ve grown so fast in the last five years, the biggest thing is help,” says Doug Cygan, president of Itasca, Ill.-based Jewel-Osco, a 187-store grocery chain in metro Chicago that’s part of Albertsons. “We hire people at a record pace. We’ve got 32,000 people, one of the biggest employers in the state of Illinois. But just finding people to work in our stores – we’re hiring at almost every location we have. We’re looking for future leaders, for future managers. So we continue to hire, teach, train people to be successful. It’s the thing that keeps us up the most at night.”
In a retail atmosphere that’s focused on convenience and the individual consumer experience, Edeker notes, “My thoughts are on meeting personal shopping needs and on-the-go habits while providing an overall great customer service experience for everyone who walks through the door at Hy-Vee.”
The provider that adapts to emerging trends and acts quickly to enable continued growth will be rewarded with loyal customers, according to Judy Spires, chairman and CEO of KB Holding Inc., a Delaware-based investment firm that owns Kings Super Markets and Balducci’s, which operate a combined 35 locations in the northeastern United States.