Originally Posted by tess9132
Maybe that's true in Center City. But restaurants in the Roxborough/Andorra section are sitting empty. Even ones with great locations and parking.
You're right that some grocery profits haven't suffered, but I know people who work for Acme and ShopRite who have had their hours cut drastically because foot traffic into the stores is waaaay down. Some employees who used to be able to walk to work now have to drive out to Bucks and Chester County Acmes so that they could continue getting enough hours for a liveable income. Turns out, you can run the Frosty Mug on two employees. It's beer and wine sales (also increased sales at suburban locations where there is no soda tax) keeping Acme's profits up, but lack of foot traffic into the store itself has cut way back the number of employees needed in those locations while the store is open.
Finally, I don't know if you've noticed the number of boarded up gas stations that used to rely on the soda sales. I don't know for a fact those are casualties of the soda tax but I have second hand info that at least one not far from me is.
Statistics can lie. Real life people have been badly hurt by the soda tax. I'm not trying to argue with you as you've stated very plainly that you don't care if businesses that relied on soda are suffering. That's a fair point of view. I just don't want the last impression of the Philadelphia soda tax on this thread to be that there was no collateral damage.
I don't live in NJ, but do work in a grocery store (in neighboring PA). The company I work for has always systematically cut hours, especially certain times of the year, when business is naturally a little slower. (It's all hands on deck on weekends, and during the run up to holidays though. During the HallowGivingMas season you could go from 12-18 hours/week to suddenly working 30-40+ hours, depending on the week of the year, and which dept you work in. If there's snow or a hurricane in the forecast, you can almost count on them begging you to come in for a few hours and help handle all the excess customers. Such is the nature of the grocery business.)
But I digress... Part of the generalized cut in hours is due to the fact that they're trying to shift as much business as possible to online ordering, offering discounts to customers who order online. At first you had to order online the day before, and set up a time to pick-up your order at one or two specific locations in the county the next day. Then they added the option of delivery service. Now, they have the option to pick up in as little as 4 hours, at any of our stores in the area. They do have employees going through the store, picking and packing the groceries for those orders, but since all those employees are already trained for other jobs in the store as well, if they don't happen to have any orders to fill, they're put on other jobs in the store until they're needed to fill orders placed by online customers. This of course saves labor hours as they shift people around to fill immediate needs, rather than paying more people dedicated to certain jobs for their entire shift, whether there's anything for them to do or not.
Half the registers in our store are dedicated self scan registers - why pay 10 cashiers when you can get away with paying one person to handle a 10 register self scan area? They recently converted 3 of the 10 regular registers to convertible self-scan/regular registers, so that's 3 more self scan registers (2/3 of the registers in the store). Sometimes they have a 2nd person to monitor those registers (1 person being paid to handle 3 registers, also saving labor hours), but not always, so sometimes the self scan attendant who is already handling 10 registers needs to run over and fix problems on those too. More labor hours saved.
They cut bagger hours by installing carousel bagging racks on some of the registers, so that the cashier could automatically bag everything as soon it's scanned, rather than needing a separate bagger standing at the end of the register to bag items. The limited number of baggers now spend most of their time retrieving carts from the parking lot.
They've even managed to cut janitor hours, by having a robot go around the store to check for any hazards that need to be cleaned up, rather than paying an employee to patrol the aisles for hazards. When the robot finds a hazard, it makes an announcement calling the janitor to clean up the hazard. This interrupts the janitor from emptying trash cans/cleaning restrooms/etc, but overall saves on labor hours. (I have no idea how much that stupid robot cost the company, but apparently The Powers That Be think it was worth it to save a few labor hours each day)
So yeah, I don't doubt that the soda tax in NJ is affecting employee hours due to reduced sales, but there are probably many other factors involved too. Retail sees certain costs as being somewhat uncontrollable (rent, repairs and upkeep, utilities, taxes, etc), but labor hours are a factor they can control to a certain extent, so they're doing everything they can to cut them as much as possible.