Grocery chains are coming under pressure to boost hourly employees’ pay again, as municipalities push continued aid for frontline workers nearly a year into the Covid-19 pandemic.
Seattle, Long Beach, Calif., and other cities have passed new rules requiring supermarkets to provide employees temporary bonus pay. Others, including Los Angeles, are considering similar mandates designed to help employees who have to show up for work in public-facing jobs like cashiers or baggers and risk exposure to the coronavirus.
Some grocers are pushing back, saying that shoppers will bear the costs. Grocery executives say rules to raise wages—in some cases by as much as $5 an hour—will increase expenses by about 30% in stores and squeeze already thin profit margins. Some chains including Kroger Co. say they will close some stores in areas with new wage mandates, while others say they are boosting food prices or may cut back on services like checkouts.