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Stop and Shop Strike Update

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The Stop and Shop strike continues, with the multi-billion dollar Belgian company who owns it apparently happy to lose millions a day in order to shred workers’ health care and force two-tier contracts down their throats, opening the door for the evisceration of grocery unionism. I don’t know what the future holds here, but this is a very important strike.

What we do know is that Stop and Shop is getting eviscerated, with visits down 75 percent in a competitive world where people often shop according to habit, thus allowing new habits to form:

In the first few days of the Stop & Shop strike, visits to the grocery chain by regular customers dropped by a whopping 75 percent compared with the previous weekend, according to an analysis of mobile device data by Skyhook, a location technology and intelligence company based in Boston.

Many loyal customers — those who typically visit Stop & Shop once a week — did not go grocery shopping at all that first weekend, the analysis found, with visits to all area grocery stores decreasing by almost half, likely a result of shoppers holding out in case the strike ended quickly.

The strike has boosted business considerably at Stop & Shop’s competitors around the region, according to Skyhook’s analysis, particularly at Hannaford, which had four times the number of visits from loyal Stop & Shop customers April 12-14 compared to the weekend before. Market Basket got a 115 percent hike, while Trader Joe’s saw a 75 percent rise and Shaw’s and Star Market had a combined 50 percent increase.

And once shoppers defect to a different store, analysts say, as few as 40 percent may return after a strike is over.

“The strong support for the strikers and people’s aversion to crossing over and going to a Stop & Shop store is so clear,” said David Bairstow, head of product for Skyhook, noting that the trend continued into this week.

It so happened I made one of my periodic trips to an Asian market right as the strike took off, so I haven’t needed to hit the grocery store much, but I’m thinking of trying the Market Basket just over the Massachusetts border, which is easier for me than to get to the Shaw’s on the other side of Providence. Maybe I will become a true Massachusetts man after that given the love that store has among the commonwealth’s residents.

Much more importantly than my own shopping choices is that these are poor workers, this strike is going on a long time, and they need your help. The UFCW has set up a GoFundMe for a strike fund. Donate to help these workers pay their rent and eat and the like.

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