Right from the start of the pandemic, supermarket employees were called out as being essential and valuable personnel.
Some retailers promoted them through their advertising while just about every newspaper, radio and TV station constantly reminded us just how important they are. Most supermarkets awarded them with bonuses or hourly increases as a reward for those long hours and odd shifts. In-store we started to see a new behavior – shoppers actually thanking these front-line workers for showing up and making sure those shelves were stocked. But as the pandemic continued some retailers pulled back on the hazard pay and the focus on these workers waned. One exception is Marc Perrone the president of the UFCW who to this day is still fighting for his members to get vaccinated and hazard pay.
Just in the nick of time, FMI proclaimed February 22 as Supermarket Employee Day to reignite the respect and interest across the country for these workers. The media responded as they helped celebrate this day by interviewing their local supermarket workers and spread the word in thousands of press clips. FMI also produced a suite of online tools and resources including logos, proclamations, celebration plans, press releases and more to help supermarkets celebrate and spread the word; and it worked. Schnuck’s in St. Louis celebrated by shining the spotlight on its store associates.
Customers are being urged to honor their “favorite heroes” in social media posts using the hashtags #SupermarketEmployeeDay and #SupermarketHeroes. And as a “thank you” to their workers, Schnucks gave all associates in their Schnucks Rewards account 5,000 points, valued at $10, to use for a break meal and stocked their break rooms with free snacks. SpartanNash offered all retail associates an “Associate Appreciation” discount of 20% off at all company-owned stores, and store associates were featured on the company’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages. to honor teams and individuals for their efforts. ShopRite took the concept one step further and actually produced a video featuring their essential workers on their Facebook page while its members offered their employees everything from free snacks and catered lunches. General Mills partnered with ShopRite and will be featuring some ShopRite associates who worked diligently to fight hunger with their photos on boxes of Cherrios later this spring.
Anyone wonder why we love this industry?