Proof It's Mostly Management Issues

At Kroger, many stores stay in bad shape. Lots of out of stocks, registers not open, late orders, and so on. We claim it's management. Kroger says it's just the market: supply issues and nobody anywhere wanting to work. I bet our readers have wondered: is this stuff going on at every grocery store (market) or just specific ones (management)? Last week, I went around lunch time on a busy day to Kroger's competitors to see if they're running as badly. I put all the pictures I took on Flikr.

(Note: I do not compare the prices. This is only to assess and compare management, supply, and worker issues. I also receive no benefits from these companies in any way. Any praise or criticism are just what they earned from what I saw and heard during my visits.)

Picture Sets

Piggly Wiggly OB

Aldi OB

Superlo Southaven

Costco Hacks Cross
(Edit: Added Costco on Sep 16. Pics are the kinds of stuff the others carry.)

Observations

In-stock Situation

All were stocked better than Kroger. In Kroger Pickup, I often ran into either whole sections empty or many out-of-stocks on fries, biscuits, fast-moving butters, toaster struedel, and so on. We'd be substituting that stuff even in the morning on many days. Those sections are really full at these other stores. Not a supplier issue. A few sections... spaghetti sauce, rice / dry beans, and Gatorade... were low at all the stores. That kind of stuff is probably a supply issue. I confirmed the Gatorade was. Overall: if you want food, you're better off trying to get it at those places.

Clerks: Stockers, Cashiers, etc.

There were more at Piggly Wiggly and Superlo that day. They were moving fastest at Piggly Wiggly and Aldi. Less stressed at Piggly Wiggly and Superlo. There's clearly a morale and retention difference between Kroger and these companies. Recently, we've also had Kroger employees leave for the competition citing how bosses treat them. I don't have a thorough survey on that, though.

Clerks: Costco

Added Costco on Sep 16, 2021. It ran so much better that I gave it its own section with bold title. Costco seemed to have as many employees in there as pre-COVID. They were friendly, fast, and many looked relaxed (much as retail allows). How can this be if media talks like no retail company can achieve that right now? Is it just the business model or is management doing something really different?

Like Publix, Costco takes care of workers: pays them well for business reasons, has good benefits, doesn't buy advertisements specifically to pay workers more, promotes from within, and tries to be respectful. When I worked there, Kroger tried to cut our benefits every negotiation (doing it right now!), kept in-store labor too low, and acted like in-store people never did anything right. I believe Kroger's in-stock and retention would approve dramatically if their management treats workers like Publix and Costco treats theirs. Hint, hint, nudge, nudge.

Checkout

After COVID, lines have gotten long in general. All of these were OK in terms of registers open vs people in line. Piggly Wiggly had the most cashiers consistently open. The biggest problem is their good in-stock and service are drawing many customers from Memphis' empty stores. The shopper volume vs store size means lines can get long even though they have all lanes open. Aldi's lines can get long. Their cashiers are fast, process is optimized, and they open new ones up. The lines move quick enough. Bring your quarter and bags, though! Superlo had registers and self-checkouts open the one time I saw them. Costco has self-checkouts now. The registers move fast enough that I just use them.