With Nevada’s attorney general soliciting public opinion on the massive proposed grocery-store merger between Kroger and Albertsons, City Cast Las Vegas asked Nevada Current journalist April Corbin Girnus and food writer Kim Foster for their perspectives. Some highlights:
🛒 What’s the argument in favor of a merger?
April Corbin Girnus: “Kroger, aka Smith’s, is the largest dedicated grocery store chain in the country. But they are far below Walmart. Kroger is saying that they need to be able to better compete with Walmart, and they can do that by buying all of the Albertsons, Vons, and Safeways. To put it into perspective, Walmart is about 20% of dollars spent on groceries in the United States. Even combined, Albertsons and Kroger are 16%.”
🛒 What are the implications of a merger?
Kim Foster: “So when corporations come together, what happens is, it takes a lot of choice for the consumer out of any equation. Also they become less creative about ways to keep prices lower, because they don't have to. A lot of people buy generic brands, for instance, and those can be really price-competitive. When there's no competition, they can mark up as they please. And consumers end up losing.”
🛒 What might this mean for grocery store employees?
April Corbin Girnus: “One of the things that's important to keep in mind is that Kroger is consistently at the top of the list of employers in Nevada that have the most employees eligible and enrolled in Medicaid. So we're not talking about a group of workers that are highly paid, right?”
Kim Foster: “I was talking to someone who has worked at Smith’s in various supermarkets for 17 years. And she was talking about how she had to borrow money to pay her rent. And this is not a person with a big lifestyle. She tells me about being relegated to part-time, not being able to have enough hours — she wants to work 40 hours. But what Kroger does is, they reduce your hours. So a lot of this isn't just about more money per hour.”
(Edited for length and clarity.)