At the Record-Journal we're committed to delivering FREE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE during this crisis.
Today, in this financially challenging time, we are asking for a little extra support from all of you to help us keep our newsroom on the job.

We're committed to delivering FREE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE during this crisis. Help keep our reporters on the front lines.

As Stop & Shop employees return after strike, customers follow

As Stop & Shop employees return after strike, customers follow

reporter photo

MERIDEN —  Tom Jedynka and other Stop & Shop produce workers cleaned the fruit bins Monday and lined them for a fresh shipment. 

“Right now we’re washing everything down and waiting for the new delivery,” Jedynka said. “The customers were ready at the doors when we opened at 8 a.m.”

Stop & Shop workers were back on the job Monday after five unions and the company came to an agreement on contract terms Sunday evening. About 31,000 union workers have yet to vote on the deal, but the United Food and Commercial Workers locals have already declared victory.     

”Yes, we’re very glad to get back to work,” said florist manager Kelly Moravsky, who is also the store’s union steward for UFCW 919. “I haven’t read it all yet and we still have to vote on it.”

Workers in every department cleaned and readied the store for new inventory Monday. Moravsky threw out wilting Easter bouquets and stocked the showcases with fresh-cut flowers.  

The relationship with management was good, Moravsky said, and the feedback from customers was positive.

“It’s time to move on,” she said.

Stop & Shop lost roughly $2 million a day during the strike. Stores such as Shop Rite, Walmart, Big Y, Whole Foods, Price Chopper and Aldi picked up much of the market share in central Connecticut during the busy Easter and Passover season.

Corporate communications offices at the other chains would not discuss Stop & Shop’s strike but a service relying on data from cell phones claimed to know where Stop & Shop loyalists spent their money.

Skyhook conducted an analysis of foot traffic to understand the impact that the strike had on both Stop & Shop stores and other major grocery store chains in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. 

To do this, Skyhook identified a group of loyal customers by analyzing anonymized mobile devices that typically visit Stop & Shop once per week. It looked to see if those customers stopped shopping at Stop & Shop locations during this time frame and went to a different grocery store instead. 

According to its blog, Skyhook found during the first days of the strike — April 12 to April14 — many customers did not go grocery shopping. The number of visits from loyal Stop & Shop customers to all grocery stores declined about 50% compared to the previous weekend. After April 14, loyal customer visits to Stop & Shop declined by 75%.

One shopper at the Meriden store on Broad Street, who  asked not to be identified, said she shopped at other stores during the strike to avoid crossing the picket line. She expects to return now that the strike is over.

“I did respect the workers,” she said. “My husband was in this business. Everybody is trying to make a living.”

Other Stop & Shop customers shared similar sentiments.

“It’s amazing the money they lost,” said Ralph Solano of Meriden.

Priscilla Aviles agreed, and said she would be back once the store is restocked. 

Employees “work hard for this,” Aviles said. “Pay them and they won’t go on strike.”

David Cadden, a business professor from Quinnipiac University, said there could be some short term harm for Stop & Shop’s bottom line, but it won’t last long. 

“They have a loyal customer base,” Cadden said. “They have the loyalty card and discount for gasoline. The long term impact will be minimal.  Both management and employees need to recognize now is the time for good customer service.”
Twitter: @Cconnbiz