The Cost of Bagging Groceries

I was at Food 4 Less (or was it El Super), watching people bag their own groceries. What would it cost if someone was there to bag them, I wondered? Let's say it takes 5 minutes to bag a cart of groceries. So a worker can do 12 in an hour. They do this for, let's say, 7 hours a day. There's a half hour of breaks, and a lunch break, and meetings, so that's why i say 7 hours.

Let's suppose this bagger makes $12 an hour, which no bagger makes, but, let's suppose. There's taxes and other expenses like insurance, so, let's say that they add 50% to the cost of hiring this person - $18 an hour, or $144 a day. That wage, spread over a cart of groceries, is only $1.71 per cart.

Anyone who shops at bag-it-yourself supermarkets knows that they are a lot cheaper than the ones where they bag it for you. Everything is cheaper, and in my experience, you can save a lot of money. Certainly more than $1.50 per trip.

So, why don't they just increase prices by 1% and hire a bunch of baggers? They would create some entry level jobs.

I suspect that it's because the owners want to create a distinction between stores. You have Food 4 Less, and you have Ralphs, both owned by Kroger. F4L costs a lot less than Ralphs. The main differences between the two is the bagging thing, inventory, and "atmoshpere".

"Self-bagging" has become a symbol of poverty, or at least of thriftyness. Conversely, not self-bagging has become a status symbol. By perpetuating this division, Kroger can increase profits at Ralphs.

Unemployment is high, especially in working class communities. What Kroger and other grocery companies with self-bagging, like Albertson's Max Foods, should do is add bagger jobs, and keep their prices low. Prices need increase only 1% to 2%, if they create $24,000 a year jobs with full benefits, and have the baggers work only 12 carts an hour!

Realistically, they should be able to do this without raising prices at all, by paying minimum wages and full benefits, and making them do more carts per hour.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

john I'm really really

john I'm really really enjoying your blog...I shop at F4L and they have started to sell canvas bags which I try to use often if I don't forget. If your calculation is correct - companies like Kroger sure know how to play off the psychology of the class on folks. All I care is that all folks start using their own bags and yes that more people are earning human-rights wages.

This starts to call in

This starts to call in question what's really happening with this economic model. I respectfully suggest you cross-post this at LA Eastside.