Slog PM: Kroger Throws Tantrum and Closes Two QFCs, Trump Puts Mitch in the Burn Book, Washington Expands COVID-19 Testing for Schools

Comments

1

Kroger operating profit for 2020 was over of $790 million — up 33% compared to year prior.

Kroger also admitted the two location had not been profitable and were under utilized for several years.

2

I got different #'s that @1: But also, Long Beach.

Kroger's profit hit $2.9 billion in the pandemic, up 70%. So far, $1.15 billion went to stock buybacks and dividends to enrich execs. Workers get no hazard pay.

Long Beach, CA passed a $4/hour bonus for grocery workers. So Kroger closed its stores there. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/kroger-shuts-stores-avoid-hazard-pay-covid/

3

There are still numerous other QFCs in Seattle so this is more about low volume stores that became unprofitable. The new labor cost was simply the last straw but they were on their way out anyway. It’s amazing that people think Kroger should subsidize a money losing location. No business does that.

4

I haven't been shopping at QFC nearly as much as I was pre-COVID. With an Amazon Prime membership giving Free Delivery, Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh just make more sense, as they are more convenient and about the same price.

Once most of us are vaccinated I'll probably start going to my neighborhood QFC more often but like most Americans my shopping patterns have permanently changed to include delivered groceries regularly.

5

An increase in labor costs of that size would have to change the calculation about whether it makes sense to keep a given location open. It's not like Kroger is closing all their stores - to me the more interesting question is whether they will try to reduce hours at the remaining stores, whether they will transfer some of the employees from closed stores to others, etc. That is what will tell us something about the motives for this.

6

Oh dear: Whole Foods, their entire credit/debit card system was down because of the Texas power outages - cash only all day.

7

@5 "An increase in labor costs of that size would have to change the calculation about whether it makes sense to keep a given location open. "

You are absolutely correct. A store that was barely profitable while providing either prominent brand placement or a significant real estate footprint might have been tolerated but adding >$8,000 to each FTE would quickly make closing those store the only decision.
If the "Hazard Pay" is extended (it's Seattle you know it will be) the next stores to go will likely be the less profitable ones in low income areas. If SCC isn't careful they'll increase the size and prevalence of urban food deserts.

8

QFC, There will be people losing their jobs! And losing hours! Do you want $4 more an hour or a job?
Socialism creeping in.

9

@7 hahaha. No.

This has next to nothing to do with SCC. This is just an excuse.

Kroger has been busting unions, cutting hours, dropping benefits, and closing locations of its QFC stores for god damned years. They’ve been automating employees out of jobs as fast as they can.

Btw. About half QFC employees are deliberately scheduled part timers already and get no or next to no healthcare benefits.

Expecting workers to risk their lives during a pandemic for low wages while the company makes record profits is god damned immoral.

Fuck Kroger. I hope every major city does this.

10

@9, And who really loses?

11

Donald who?

12

so teachers are just floating like angels above grocery workers, restaurant workers, etc?

it must be nice to get the same pay, benefits while "working" from home. my best guess is they aren't fully back until AFTER next summer.

13

@10

You clowns. Every election.

14

@5, "It's not like Kroger is closing all their stores - to me the more interesting question is whether they will try to reduce hours at the remaining stores, whether they will transfer some of the employees from closed stores to others, etc. That is what will tell us something about the motives for this."

Or just Fire them all. That would be best for all, right? I think some will lose their jobs. If other employees are spread out, you bet there will be less hours if they want to be employed. Times are tough and this makes it tougher. Would the stores have lasted longer? Maybe years without the City Council intervention.

15

Kroger/QFC is so full of shit. Not only did they have a record year last year, they made so much fucking money that they did a $1 Billion stock buyback, a gift to their stockholders. If they are having a record year BECAUSE of the pandemic, and made so much money they could give a billion dollar gift to their stockholders in the middle of the pandemic, then they can afford to pay their workers a few dollars more, at least temporarily, during the very pandemic that is enriching them.

Fuck them. I'm done with QFC/Kroger/Fred Meyer. None of the grocery store chains are angels, but I refuse to throw my money at this gross hypocrisy. I can find other places to shop.

16

Ever since I was just a tiny little Catalina, tottering along the aisles looking for a box of Aplets & Cotlets, I thought it was weird how QFC's and Safeways were almost always co-located. I later chalked it up to some sort of Greatest Generation corporate competition.

In the case of both these QFC's, they are overshadowed by much larger Safeways. Add that to all the grocery delivery services, and the writing was on the wall.

16

The Wedgwood QFC is small, has a very small parking lot, and there are rarely enough registers open so there have been long lines and it does not feel Covid-safe. The neighborhood shoppers will have to switch to the Safeway a few blocks south on 35th, or leave the neighborhood to go grocery shopping, or shop online. It will be missed - it was nice to have a decent grocery in the neighborhood.

17

@15, Fine, lets hope they all disappear. Then what? Good Luck!
Record year? Ever check out their last 3 years? Yeah, people shopped a grocery stores and cooked at home more than ever because the restaurants We're Closed! The next two years will be the same for them Right?

18

P.S., Just so you know, what a company does with it's profits is not your call.

20

@17, sure, their profits are way up temporarily because everyone's eating at home during Covid. That's the point. Kroger is making bank during the pandemic. They gave a billion dollar gift to their stockholders, while at the same time saying they can't afford to temporarily pay their workers a few dollars more. That is rank hypocrisy.

Yes, when people get their vaccines and Covid ends and people go back to eating in restaurants, then grocery store profits will probably go down in the next couple of years. So what? The temporary pay raise the city is requiring will also end when the pandemic does. It isn't a permanent raise.

If Kroger wants to close a couple of low profit stores, I don't really care. All businesses do that. Go right ahead. What pisses me off is their blatant lie that they are closing because they can't afford the extra $4 to their workers. The truth is that the Capitol Hill QFC probably has one of the highest rents for a grocery store in the city. The Wedgewood QFC is unusually small for the neighborhood and has a tiny parking lot. The lack of profitability of both stores has nothing whatsoever to do with a temporary increase in employee wages. Rather than blame the high rents or the tiny store, Kroger wants to blame the city and use it as a cudgel over their workers.

Fuck them. I'll take my business elsewhere.

21

@20, "The temporary pay raise the city is requiring will also end when the pandemic does. It isn't a permanent raise."

Oh, really! You believe that?

"What pisses me off is their blatant lie that they are closing because they can't afford the extra $4 to their workers."

That's exactly what their saying, would they otherwise stayed open? Who knows, maybe years! What their saying/doing is that this artificial inflation put these stores over the edge.

And I will repeat, what a private company does with its profits is not your call.

22

@18, P.S., of course they are free to do whatever they want with their profits.

But they are not free to peddle lies unchallenged.

And where I choose to spend my money and what businesses I choose to support is not your call.

23

@22 "And where I choose to spend my money and what businesses I choose to support is not your call."

Never said it was. That your problem.

24

It's time for Trumpty Dumpty's fat, racist POS ass shoved into a Burn Book and roasted on HIGH.

@16 Catalina Vel-DuRay: Ah. I was wondering if there was a merger between QFC and Safeway. It sadly appears that Safeway has bought the local Haggen's in my district, too. Is Safeway gobbling all the grocery stores up to become a PNW food monopoly? YOIKS!

25

Didn't The Stranger lay off most it's staff? Weird that you'd criticize another company for laying off their staff, since they pay more than the stranger does and the stranger isn't subject to the rules about hazard pay.

26

23, you'd say something different when what a private business does hurts you, and I hope it does.

27

RE: Double impeached donnie's letter to turtle.

Yeah, he didn't write a word of that.

28

@25, the sheer force of your galactically stupid false equivalence just caused my eyes to roll all the way around past my brain and up the other side of my cheekbones.

29

Small correction: it's "former SAG-AFTRA member...", the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists merged in 2012. Some people may be confused because the "SAG Awards", for which TBS/Warner Media owns the broadcast and licensing rights, still uses the old moniker.

30

So it turns out the QFC property was sold by them 4 years ago.

This has nothing to do with a $4 wage increase, and they know it.

31

@25 Ooof. That was a D-U-M-B comment, trollflake.

I don't know if you understand how journalism works, but The Stranger doesn't work with the general public.

See, its offices are not an open retail environment where you personally go and stand next to a writer and breath in their face for eight hours while they work. Maybe you want to do that. But that's not how it works.

32

I find it very interesting that the two QFC locations happen to be adjacent or very close to some of Seattle's most expensive neighborhoods: Windermere, View Ridge and Matthews Beach for the Wedgewood store, and Broadmoor, Volunteer Park/Millionaire's Row, and Montlake for the 15th Avenue store. Makes one wonder if the decision to close these so-called "underperforming" locations has anything to do with inconveniencing some of our wealthier citizens and forcing them to drive to comparatively less tony neighborhoods to shop in the hope they'll in turn pressure the City to rescind the hazard pay ordinance.

33

I work in one of these locations. If I lose this job and they don't let me transfer, my life is as good as over. The only reason I can afford where I live now is because I've busted my ass at this company until I could secure journeyman pay. 2020 was a hell year in every other aspect, but it became the first year in my 30 year old life where I was finally financially secure. I can't afford to start over at minimum wage. Even if I cut down to ramen and pastaroni everyday to afford it, most apartments won't even rent to you if you don't meet done obscene 3x rent monthly income requirement.

Our store was not looking to close before this. They had just started a remodel over the summer, and a just last week we were still hiring new people. The only reason we weren't profitable? Because despite our size, we still had to carry whatever kroger mandated so we'd have the same selection as big stores, and as a result, hundreds of pounds of food would be thrown every day. Food and brands we knew never sold, but weren't allowed to stop carrying!

Screw Kroger. It's their fault our store couldn't be more profitable. And now they're using us as an excuse to justify not paying us more, when they barely want to do the bare minimum to keep us from getting sick.

34

28 sorry I couldn't heard you over the hum of your jack-off crystals. Jobs are jobs.

35

Auntie dear, QFC is owned by Kroeger (which owns a whole bunch of brands all across the country, including QFC and Fred Meyer). Safeway is owned by Albertsons, and owns a bunch of brands as well - including Haggen's.

It's too bad, really - I remember when QFC was locally owned, and the classier alternative to Safeway.

36

@35:

As a native Oregonian, I grew up as a loyal Fred Meyer customer (full disclosure: my paternal grandmother was renowned for many years as the "paint hostess" at the Portland, Hollywood Freddie's) and I have remained so to this day, even after their buy out by Kroger; and this despite the fact my mother worked for well over a decade at a Safeway store in Kelso. Back then, they, like most other local/regional chains, held the customer in the highest esteem. Post merger, I've see first-hand workers struggling on a daily basis to provide that same level of customer support, but in in an environment that increasingly requires them to do so much more with seemingly very little corporate support, and certainly nothing near the level of compensation they deserve - and that was before a global viral pandemic thrust them into the front lines of "essential services".

As far as I can see, they're treated not much better than the migrant workers who pick the produce that eventually ends up in their stores: long hours, irregular schedules, crabby to downright violent customers, lousy pay, and nothing even remotely akin to understanding, sympathy, or regard by their corporate overlords.

And before the blathering RWNJ's start shouting "if you don't like your job - get another one!", let me remind you that if EVERYONE did that you'd all be standing in the midst of aisles and aisles of empty shelves, limited selection, rotting produce, and long, long lines at the checkout. SOMEONE NEEDS TO DO THE WORK, because most of us don't have the skill or ability, let alone the sheer acreage, to grow or raise our own fruits, grains, meat and vegetables, so we have to get it from somewhere, and in a Capitalist system, this is the method we've collectively - even if unwillingly - decided is the best way to do that.

So, please excuse me if I don't have much reciprocal sympathy for the upper level suits - or their toadying, sycophantic supporters - who believe it's perfectly acceptable to exploit laborers in order to squeeze every last erg of energy out of them in their quest for the almighty dollar.

37

@35 Catalina Vel-DuRay: That's right--I'd forgotten that QFC is owned by food giant Kroeger. Holy shit---Kroeger owns Fred Meyer as well as Safeway, too? Do the community food co-ops where I live stand a chance if Kroeger is hellbent on becoming a regional and / or national foodopoly? We cannot let the PNW become a food desert like the way the Southeastern United States is. People there are forced to get in their cars and drive as far as 100 miles one way for fresh produce, meat, eggs, dairy, or anything of real nutrional value that isn't highly processed or deep fat fried.
I also remember when Safeway, Albertson's, and QFC were locally owned. This is really sad. I feel like it's 1993 all over again when Frederick & Nelson closed its doors---and The Bon Marche became Macy's. God---at least we still have Nordstrom's-----right?
I miss Frederick & Nelson and The Bon Marche..............

38

@34: "Jobs are jobs." Way to meet that accusation of false equivalents by completely proving him right.

Now, what the fuck are "jack-off crystals" ? I'm intrigued by this combination of words, and why they would hum.

39

@36 COMTE: Agreed and seconded. Thank you, your mother, and grandmother for your contributions to your communities (re Portland, OR, Kelso, WA, etc. food stores).
I support and shop at my local Community Food Co-op as often as I can. The idea that Big Grocery monopolies like Kroger are eating up all competition in sight deeply concerns me.