Wegmans breaks price increase news to its customers
In a note to customers, Wegmans said that “retail prices on certain items in our stores will fluctuate in response” to increasing operational and food costs tied to the coronavirus outbreak.
The note from “the Wegman Family” that owns the chain said one factor behind the higher prices is the costs of the chain’s COVID-19 response. Wegmans said, “In the matter of a few short weeks, our stores had to transform into a place where people keep their distance from one another and wear masks to keep those around them safe.”
The second factor is rising product costs “in supply-challenged areas, such as meat.”
“We are doing our very best to work through these challenging times and want to remain transparent about what is happening in the world around us,” Wegmans concluded. “As more businesses begin to open, they too will see that the cost of doing business has changed from a short time ago. We will do our part and share our processes and procedures with other businesses, so they can save time and get their businesses open quicker. The only way to overcome COVID-19 is to all work together.”
So-called “hero pay,” stepped-up cleaning and safety measures, and limits on customer capacity are all seen as profitability strains for grocers. At the same time, the Labor Department last week said prices U.S. consumers paid for groceries jumped 2.6 percent in April, the largest one-month pop since February 1974.
Meat prices in particular are under pressure as dozens of processing plants in the Midwest were forced to close over the last month due to outbreaks among workers.
Some grocers, including Costco, Harris Teeter, Food Lion and Publix, have begun to limit meat purchases.
In a statement to CNN, Publix said that it works “extremely hard to negotiate pricing” with suppliers and tries “to absorb as much of the increase as we can before having to pass along an increase to our customers.” Wegmans appears to be one of the few grocers warning of higher prices.
The pricing pressures come amid a surge in complaints of price gouging across states blamed on the pandemic.
- A Note from the Wegman Family – Wegmans
- Wegmans announces price hikes, cites pandemic as reason – WENY News
- Meat industry butchered by COVID-19 in the Midwest – The Dispatch-Argus
- Tyson Reduces Some Beef Prices as Coronavirus Pushes Grocery-Store Costs Higher – The Wall Street Journal
- Grocers react to sharp spike in grocery food prices, consumer concerns of price-gouging – CNN
- Hundreds of Price Gouging Complaints Filed During Coronavirus Pandemic – NBC San Diego
- It’s time for Congress to establish a federal price gouging law – Amazon.com
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: In what ways should price increases be explained, if at all, to consumers and does that change amid the pandemic? Are public statements such as Wegmans, in-store signage or prepping in-store associates for customer queries the best path to sharing such information?