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FMI-The Food Industry Association yesterday released a new report saying that "the food retail industry invested $24 billion in response to the dramatic changes in Americans’ shopping and food consumption habits amid the pandemic."

The investment, the study says, included "significant safety, workforce and technology investments that have enabled food retailers to safely keep their stores operating, thereby serving communities during the public health crisis."

Specifically, FMI said, "These investments include:  

•  Increases in payroll and incentive pay: $12 billion.

•  Increases in benefits: $5 billion.

•  Non-monetary benefits and vaccine incentives: $1 billion.

•  Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other safety expenses: $1 billion.

•  Cleaning and sanitation supplies, labor, and other related expenses: $3 billion.

•  Technology and online delivery expenses: $1.5 billion.

The study says that "according to the data, food retailers spent more than $1 billion on PPE and other safety expenses, such as store signage, COVID-19 tests, and thermometers, and an additional $2 billion on increased cleaning and sanitation hires or use of external partners for this purpose, and more than $400 million on cleaning and sanitization products."

KC's View:

At a time when mandated hazard pay is a front-and-center issue for the supermarket industry, the investments in employee compensation and safety being made by retailers are no doubt being seen as a way of firing back against accusations of greed.

It is a complicated landscape.  I've generally believed that too few companies actually make their front line employees the foundation of their value proposition and then reward them accordingly, though I also believe that retailers were exceptionally aggressive in offering hazard pay and bonuses during the pandemic.

I also think the way many companies structured those payments created optics issues when they didn't offer them anymore, but that it is bad public policy for lawmakers to step in to mandate new levels of hazard pay.

In other words, I think there are a lot of good intentions here on both sides of the issue, but you know what they say about the road to hell.