How Many Grocery Stores Will Be Leaving Seattle?

 

The Seattle City Council is about to pass “hazard pay” legislation, mandating an additional $4-per-hour for grocery store workers, lasting “for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.” The main sponsor of said legislation is, of course, the grocery-store workers union.

Prediction 1: Grocery store workers will lose hours, and/or lose their jobs entirely if their employers are forced to pay them an additional $4-per-hour on top of their already-inflated Seattle-mandated wages.

Prediction 2: Small grocery stores will leave Seattle for the suburbs, given that grocery stores already operate on razor-thin margins.

Prediction 3: The “Covid-19 Pandemic” will never end.

What do you think?

Published in Economics
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  1. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    And the hits keep coming! I don’t see how Seattle can survive if they continue to do this stuff – which they almost certainly will.

    • #1
  2. Dave of Barsham Member
    Dave of Barsham
    @LesserSonofBarsham

    I lived there in the late 2000’s and got out a couple of years after moving there when I could. I don’t blame anyone who feels that it’s “home” for staying (I’m a Southerner), but it’s a lost hope. The crazy was there over a decade ago, and the lefties will keep jiggling that handle until it flushes. 

    • #2
  3. JimGoneWild Coolidge
    JimGoneWild
    @JimGoneWild

    A vote against the $4/hour just tells ANTIFA to burn it down. So #2.

    • #3
  4. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    I have another question: When they leave, if the deserted Seattle locations are mostly or significantly minority, how long before the cries of racism start? After all, if he suburbs have good grocery stores and the suburbs are mostly white, what possible explanation can there be other than racism?

    • #4
  5. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Are there price controls on foodstuffs to keep grocers from just raising prices? Or is that waiting for phase two?

     

    • #5
  6. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    No price controls, just added taxes, like the “sweetened beverage” tax that raises the cost of sweetened soft drinks by 45%. That tax has brought revenue much more than they anticipated. Seattle never met a tax it didn’t like.

    • #6
  7. Ray Kujawa Coolidge
    Ray Kujawa
    @RayKujawa

    This move to enrich grocery store workers an additional $4.00 per hour at the same time that Covid restrictions across the state are keeping people in the restaurant industry from working is incredibly selfish. This is piggy-backing on the same kind of hysteria driving the public teachers unions to object to fully reopening schools in the face of lack of data associated with transmitting Covid. There aren’t enough cases (aren’t any?) supporting the contention that grocery story workers working during the pandemic constitutes a hazardous condition. If that were so — as has happened in both the aerospace and food processing sectors — workers would raise issues, and workplace accomodations would be made, as they were in both the food processing and aerospace industries in this state. Whether you have issues with the assertions that social distancing and masking are working, they are the chosen nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPI) that have been chosen and legitimated by the experts and government of this state. You cannot raise an argument that our leaders have been knowingly subjecting our essential worker citizens to unsafe working conditions while they do not have or are provided the means to protect themselves from potential illness and death … but $4.00 extra per hour should cover the difference. No sane person would accept that bargain; no rational politician would permit themselves to be so debased as to concede they would make such an offer or have their name associated with it. 

    • #7
  8. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Ray Kujawa (View Comment):

    This move to enrich grocery store workers an additional $4.00 per hour at the same time that Covid restrictions across the state are keeping people in the restaurant industry from working is incredibly selfish. This is piggy-backing on the same kind of hysteria driving the public teachers unions to object to fully reopening schools in the face of lack of data associated with transmitting Covid. There aren’t enough cases (aren’t any?) supporting the contention that grocery story workers working during the pandemic constitutes a hazardous condition. If that were so — as has happened in both the aerospace and food processing sectors — workers would raise issues, and workplace accomodations would be made, as they were in both the food processing and aerospace industries in this state. Whether you have issues with the assertions that social distancing and masking are working, they are the chosen nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPI) that have been chosen and legitimated by the experts and government of this state. You cannot raise an argument that our leaders have been knowingly subjecting our essential worker citizens to unsafe working conditions while they do not have or are provided the means to protect themselves from potential illness and death … but $4.00 extra per hour should cover the difference. No sane person would accept that bargain; no rational politician would permit themselves to be so debased as to concede they would make such an offer or have their name associated with it.

    All true. All sane and rational. Which is why it does not matter. This is all about suppression, not public health.

    • #8
  9. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Well, Prediction #3 (Covid-19 pandemic will never end) is the likely answer for a number of questions, particularly in states like Washington, since “Covid-19 pandemic” provides so many excuses for authoritarian control.

    Otherwise as to this specific proposal, a combination of #1 and #2.

    Reduce staff with more self-service or the stores will require suppliers to do more of tasks like shelf-stocking. That will also favor the large warehouse style stores over the local “full service” stores. Eliminate features like in-store butchers and in-store bakeries and delis (assuming those roles are covered by the extra pay rule). My local supermarket already heavily pushes shoppers into self-checkout by keeping staffed checkout lanes to a minimum. 

    Marginally profitable stores will become unprofitable, so corporate owners will close them as part of the never-ending programs of evaluating store performance. I don’t think the chains have the desire to charge different prices in the city than in the suburbs (messes up regional advertising). If costs in one location become high enough that area-wide prices are not sufficient to make a profit at that location, they would prefer to close that store.

    The proposal itself is incredibly dumb and (as noted by @raykujawa) selfish. Grocery store workers already have a wage premium over the people in other industries that have been put out of work (any wage is more than no wage). If grocery store workers think their pay does not compensate them adequately for the work they do and the risks they take, no one is chaining them to the grocery store. They can look for another job elsewhere that has a risk to pay ratio that they find preferable. Oh yeah, many of those jobs have been eliminated and the people who used to hold those other jobs earn $0.

    More selfishness. The linked article says:

    The ordinance would not impact convenience stores or food marts that sell a limited line of goods.

    What about drug store workers? Gas station workers? In other words, grocery store workers would become a privileged group of workers that are “more equal than others.” Nice and selfish of them, like most socialists. We get ours first. 

    • #9
  10. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    RushBabe49: What do you think?

    “All” is my official answer.

    • #10
  11. Jon1979 Lincoln
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    When we had the huge oil & gas drilling boom here in West Texas, without any mandatory $15 an hour wage level, stores ended up being force to still hire workers in the $14-$17 an hour levels or lose them to higher-paying oilfield related businesses. The way they adjusted to the new reality while trying to keep their prices in line with other parts of the state was to vastly ramp up the number of self-serve checkout lines.

    That’s what I suspect the Seattle stores are going to do first, before they close up shop and move to the suburbs. You could see half the supermarket check-out lines be replaced by a self-checkout area, where one worker oversees 8-10 scanners. The Seattle grocery stores will still need stockers and people in departments like meat or bakery, but the union’s not going to be happy to see as many workers as possible automated out of their jobs by the new rules.

    • #11
  12. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    Prediction #4: Food deserts. Observers: “The people have no bread to eat.” Seattle: “Let them call Uber Eats!”

    • #12
  13. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    I see Seattle as a petri dish in which the rest of us can see how the insane policies of the Left actually work out. 

    There was a story in the news today to the effect that Seattle’s latest interim chief of police announced that, starting next Saturday, they intend to begin arresting people for destruction of property. 

    • #13
  14. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Cui bono? The unions, of course, because it is their idea. Who pays the campaigns of the city council critters? Unions. 

    • #14
  15. Rōnin Coolidge
    Rōnin
    @Ronin

    @rushbabe49 I don’t think you understand. They want you, and anyone else like you, gone.

    • #15
  16. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Rōnin (View Comment):

    @rushbabe49 I don’t think you understand. They want you, and anyone else like you, gone.

    I’m already gone. I haven’t lived in Seattle since 1992. I do feel for the Ricochet members who still live there, like @susaninseattle and @boomerang.

    • #16
  17. Ray Kujawa Coolidge
    Ray Kujawa
    @RayKujawa

    Rōnin (View Comment):

    @rushbabe49 I don’t think you understand. They want you, and anyone else like you, gone.

    That might be true, but refusal to accept realities of the free market and individual choice are anti-social and self-limiting. Leftists seem to live in a world of perpetual silo mentality that their industry can be perpetually fed from a stone so long as they hold the levers of power. It’s like the mantra of the small theater group I used to belong to, Stone Soup Theater.

    • #17
  18. Retail Lawyer Member
    Retail Lawyer
    @RetailLawyer

    Prediction #4 Food will cost more and be harder to find in Seattle.

    • #18
  19. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    I thought my state (NY) stunk. But I’ve been seeing all th e riots still going on in Washington State. Amazing. Hard to believe they can’t stop it. It just goes to prove that wherever Liberals dominate, life becomes hell. 

    • #19
  20. Rōnin Coolidge
    Rōnin
    @Ronin

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Rōnin (View Comment):

    @rushbabe49 I don’t think you understand. They want you, and anyone else like you, gone.

    I’m already gone. I haven’t lived in Seattle since 1992. I do feel for the Ricochet members who still live there, like @susaninseattle and @boomerang.

    Understood @rushbabe49, but this has nothing to do with Seattle or Portland, these are just places the “Neo-Marxist/Progressive Anarchist – Extremist Whatever” have managed to get a foothold in. The endgame is control of all aspect of society and culture to build the socialist utopia. The tool to accomplish this is social and cultural deconstruction. Nothing of the old world is to be left standing. I should have written my last sentence to say: “They want you and me, and anyone else like us, gone.”  But between you and me, I think they will play hell getting it done.

    • #20
  21. Rōnin Coolidge
    Rōnin
    @Ronin

    Ray Kujawa (View Comment):

    Rōnin (View Comment):

    @rushbabe49 I don’t think you understand. They want you, and anyone else like you, gone.

    That might be true, but refusal to accept realities of the free market and individual choice are anti-social and self-limiting. Leftists seem to live in a world of perpetual silo mentality that their industry can be perpetually fed from a stone so long as they hold the levers of power. It’s like the mantra of the small theater group I used to belong to, Stone Soup Theater.

    Agreed @raykujawa, reality is like gravity, we may not fully understand it – but it always in play and always works.

    • #21
  22. Jon1979 Lincoln
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    Manny (View Comment):

    I thought my state (NY) stunk. But I’ve been seeing all th e riots still going on in Washington State. Amazing. Hard to believe they can’t stop it. It just goes to prove that wherever Liberals dominate, life becomes hell.

    Cities like Seattle and states like Washington or San Francisco to me have the mindset of New York 50 years ago, when anarchy v1.0 descended on the area, combined with things like the implementation of a city sales tax. The politicians of the time looked at the rising taxes combined with the rising crime and declining services, and had the hubris to first say “We’re such a fabulous place to live that nobody who means anything would ever want to leave.” That was followed, after the first wave of middle class residents and upper class ones with corporations started fleeing for everywhere from Connecticut to Texas, by the continued arrogance of “Who needs you? We have plenty of other people and companies who can take your place!

    That lasted until the bankruptcy crisis of 1975-77, when the city suddenly realized it would never get out of its hole if it chased all the big companies away with anti-business practices. The city and state then implemented a ton of business tax breaks and other carve outs (which in hindsight was an early version of today’s Democratic Party crony capitalism, where businesses are still demonized, except for the ones that get carve-outs in return for big donations and other in-kind services).

    Seattle has lost most of Boeing, and even Amazon has been making noises about moving. But the city’s leadership seems to be in the “Who needs you? We have plenty of other people and companies who can take your place!” mindset right now, because West Coast cities have never experienced the major corporate flight due to progressive policies that New York endured in the 1970s. And the people running Seattle likely are too arrogant to learn by example, but will find out first-hand when the tax $$$ disappears.

    • #22
  23. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    And the people running Seattle likely are too arrogant to learn by example

    Isn’t that equally true of NY and LA and DC and Chicago?

    • #23
  24. Jon1979 Lincoln
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    Chuck (View Comment):

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    And the people running Seattle likely are too arrogant to learn by example

    Isn’t that equally true of NY and LA and DC and Chicago?

    New York’s in a battle now between it’s arrogant progs who want to tax all businesses big and small to death, and the crony capitalist liberal Democrats, who give carve-outs to the big corporations that can help their careers. It’s one of the reasons Andrew Cuomo’s been at war with Bill de Blasio, and why he’s not BFFs with AOC, over her scuttling the crony deal with Jeff Bezos for part of Amazon’s East Coast headquarters. We’ll see where the city’s voters come down this November when de Blasio is term limited, but there will be de Blaiso clones (including possibly his wife) in the mayoral field.

    L.A., the Bay Area and California in general just now seem to be having the first inclinations that their policies are so bad even some of the businesses they see as being on their side, like Big Tech and Hollywood, are willing to go elsewhere if things get bad enough. So that puts them possibly a little ahead of Seattle on the awareness scale, though I doubt they plan to make any meaningful reforms as long as the voters don’t seem to care, which kind of fits with Chicago as well (though the Windy City actually picked up part of Boeing from Seattle, likely because crony deals and Chicago pols have a more hallowed pedigree than even New York’s dealmakers have over the past century).

    • #24
  25. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Chuck (View Comment):

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    And the people running Seattle likely are too arrogant to learn by example

    Isn’t that equally true of NY and LA and DC and Chicago?

    Chicago, not so much, but about 33% of the businesses on the Magnificent Mile are closed. Macy’s is closing a store with about 170K square feet in Water Tower Place.

    Maybe Walmart will move in.

    • #25
  26. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    You could see half the supermarket check-out lines be replaced by a self-checkout area, where one worker oversees 8-10 scanners.

    The last time I was in Myrtle Beach, the local WalMart grocery I frequent had done this. They had about one worker per four to sixmachines, and just about all of us geezers needed help checking out!

    The thing I don’t like is that if I forget to scan one item and leave the store, I’m a shoplifter . . .

    • #26
  27. Jon1979 Lincoln
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    Stad (View Comment):

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    You could see half the supermarket check-out lines be replaced by a self-checkout area, where one worker oversees 8-10 scanners.

    The last time I was in Myrtle Beach, the local WalMart grocery I frequent had done this. They had about one worker per four to sixmachines, and just about all of us geezers needed help checking out!

    The thing I don’t like is that if I forget to scan one item and leave the store, I’m a shoplifter . . .

    Our Permian Basin Supercenters are basically 8-10 scanners at one end of the checkout area with one attendant, 8-10 scanners at the other end, and about a dozen or so regular check-out aisles still remaining in the middle. How many of those that actually are staffed depends on both time of day and the local economy (it’s easier right now for Walmart to get workers than just 1-2 years ago). The lesson I’ve learned with the scanners is never get behind someone buying beer or wine, because the one worker covering the area has to come over an key in the birthdate after the scanner shuts down.

    • #27
  28. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Stad (View Comment):

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    You could see half the supermarket check-out lines be replaced by a self-checkout area, where one worker oversees 8-10 scanners.

    The last time I was in Myrtle Beach, the local WalMart grocery I frequent had done this. They had about one worker per four to sixmachines, and just about all of us geezers needed help checking out!

    The thing I don’t like is that if I forget to scan one item and leave the store, I’m a shoplifter . . .

    How do you “forget” to scan an item? You take each item out of the cart, you run it past the scanner, the scanner beeps, you put it in the bag. It’s pretty hard to “accidentally” put it in the bag without scanning it.

     

    • #28
  29. Jon1979 Lincoln
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    You could see half the supermarket check-out lines be replaced by a self-checkout area, where one worker oversees 8-10 scanners.

    The last time I was in Myrtle Beach, the local WalMart grocery I frequent had done this. They had about one worker per four to sixmachines, and just about all of us geezers needed help checking out!

    The thing I don’t like is that if I forget to scan one item and leave the store, I’m a shoplifter . . .

    How do you “forget” to scan an item? You take each item out of the cart, you run it past the scanner, the scanner beeps, you put it in the bag. It’s pretty hard to “accidentally” put it in the bag without scanning it.

     

    If you run it past the scanner and put it in the bag without checking to see if the scanner read the UPC properly, you can inadvertently ‘shoplift’ the item.

    • #29
  30. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Our grocery scanner stations weigh your items once they are scanned. The weight of a bag triggers the unit to say “unexpected item in bagging area” and will shut down if you don’t remove it. You are not allowed to bag your items until all of them are scanned. This is my least favorite part of self-checkout.

    • #30