All Things Political

Grocery Industry Job Outlook

Because of the relatively high turnover in this industry, numerous job opportunities will be available for first-time job seekers, people with limited job skills, and those seeking part-time or alternative work schedules. Specialty occupations and managers require higher skill levels and more training or experience.

The number of wage and salary jobs in grocery stores is expected to experience little or no growth over the 2008-18 period, compared to 11 percent growth projected for all industries combined. Competition from restaurants and other eating places, and from supercenters and warehouse clubs, will cause some grocery stores to close and others to get bigger or specialize in order to compete. The consolidation of smaller establishments into larger stores is expected to make the industry more streamlined. Similarly, advances in technology, including inventory management, will make existing workers more productive and reduce the need for new employees. Conversely, many smaller grocery stores are choosing to sell a narrower range of grocery products, often specializing in products or services to fit a specific clientele or particular store category, such as organic foods.

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At the same time, consumer demand for more diversified food tastes and shopping convenience—including one-stop shopping—is driving grocery stores to increase product variety and expand the number of sales departments and consumer services. This restructuring of the retail food business requires a broader range of workers to staff newer departments, such as the prepared food and fresh fish departments and deli counters that make sandwiches to go. More stores are expected to develop a niche for being a source for particular items and gain a competitive edge by selling them. The mix of workers within the store will adjust as a result to reflect consumer buying habits and the changing product focus.

Employment of those in specialty food processing, preparation, and serving occupations—bakers, food preparation workers, and fast food and counter workers—is expected to grow faster than the industry average because of the growing popularity of purchasing freshly baked breads and pastries and other prepared meals for both re-heating at home and for consumption on the premises.

Little to no change is expected in employment of cashiers and other front-end occupations. Online grocery shopping and use of self-checkout registers will cause some lessening in demand for cashiers, but shoppers continue to want the personal service provided by cashiers, baggers, and courtesy clerks and to be able to judge the quality of fresh grocery items for themselves.

Job opportunities in grocery stores should be plentiful because of the relatively short tenure of the many young and part-time employees in the workforce. Many will need to be replaced when they leave to find new jobs, seek full-time employment, return to school, or stop working. The greatest numbers of job openings will be in the largest occupations: cashiers and stock clerks and order fillers. These jobs generally have high replacement needs.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2010-11 Edition

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