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A shake-up in how we measure supermarkets

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A shake-up in how we measure supermarkets

Are the marketing and PR strategies of big supermarkets and restaurant chains going to radically change?

Until now, while they have sometimes sought to play up their green or ethical credentials, it has mostly been about price, lately with claims (which we don’t believe) that they are as cheap as the German giants Aldi and Lidl.

Stories about supermarket “price wars” were endless, even if they were routinely followed by stories about supermarket profits rising again.

I think there is a genuine shift in the public mood on this. We respect, have sympathy for, supermarket workers like never before. They might not be quite in the same league as nurses, but we realise that what they do is vital, and think they should be better paid.

CEOs, at least in the US, seem to think so too.

report in Newsweek is enlightening. It says that big retail chains are telling investors that a proposed $15 an hour minimum wage wouldn’t be that big a deal – they can afford to pay people better, and the rise in the cost of goods would be minimal. Higher pay is generally good for business, the CEOs say.

They are saying this even while their own trade group, the National Restaurant Association, lobbies against higher wages.

In the UK, the British Retail Consortium has mostly seemed to fight against pay rises, lately arguing that there needs to be a “cautious” approach to increases in the minimum wage.

It’s not impossible to imagine one of their members breaking ranks on this – giving staff a big pay rise and openly bragging about the fact. Morrisons has made some efforts in this direction, but could probably do better.

If we think that the Aldi over the road is cheaper than the Sainsbury’s around the corner, but that Sainsbury’s plainly treats its staff much better, I think a lot of us would take the small hit to the cost of our food and shop at the place with the higher pay.

The Sainsbury’s advertising could talk about its 4-day week, its excellent maternity and paternity leave, its solid pensions. Also: good bananas.

A race to the top on staff pay would be, if nothing else, terrific PR.

Press release of the day

The internet is no longer the tool for the young, says this from Aviva, commenting on the latest ONS stats on internet user growth.

But while the oldies are on the net more and more, they don’t use it much for investment services, yet.

They should, is Aviva’s point.


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