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The Washington Times reports that Giant Food is converting the seafood departments in 55 stores and floral departments in 62 stores to a self-service format, saying that these are “low volume” stores that require such a shift.

Barry Scher, a spokesman for Giant, tells the Times that the move is part of an industry-wide trend, but the Times suggests that other competitors in the DC area are moving in the opposite direction, ramping up service in order to better compete with the likes of Wegmans and Whole Foods.

“Safeway, the second-largest grocer in the Washington area, said it is increasing the number of employees in its specialty shops, including seafood and floral, but declined to provide figures,” the Times writes, and also reports that Food Lion has “added specialty-department employees in some stores when it converted them to the high-end Bloom brand.”
KC's View:
This comes back to the question that we keep asking here on MNB.

Efficiency or effectiveness?

We’re going to assume that Giant would argue that this move makes it both efficient and effective, and that it will be able to lower prices and sell more fish and flowers by being self-service. But only time will tell for sure if this is wishful thinking.

Our guess – and we’re willing to be proven wrong – is that it is hard to sell more when you stop selling, and only put items out in the hope that customers will find them. It also is worth noting that one of the criticisms of Giant since it has been consolidating operations with sister Ahold division Stop & Shop has been that it seems more disconnected from the communities and neighborhoods where it built is reputation over the years. It is hard to reconnect when you’re eliminating people.

Maybe the problem wasn’t the fact that these departments were staffed, but that they were staffed by the wrong people.

But we’re just speculating here.