Does your supermarket help or hurt the poor?
By Paul F. Murray, Wealthy Affiliate member
There are a lot of things that lower-income people have to
do without, e.g. expensive and/or late-model cars, dining out at fancy
restaurants, vacation trips, gold and silver jewelry, nights out at the movies,
and so on and so on. One thing that poor people cannot do without, no matter
how short on money they may be, is food.
There are soup kitchens available here and there but not
everywhere. Moreover, sometimes even the poor need to purchase more specialized
food either for themselves or for a family member. A person may be diabetic and
the foods at the Soup Kitchen are too starchy or sugary. Or, the Soup Kitchen
food isn’t enough to feed a family. Or it’s only open when the kids are in
school or you’re at work. Whatever.
Food stamps help, of course. But the bottom line is this: people
are going to need to buy food now and then. The lower the prices are, the
easier it becomes for families, especially poor families, to buy food staples.
I shop at my local Walmart. In terms of price, it usually is
the “low price leader” compared with the local Albertson’s or Smith’s (a Western
division of Kroger) As I write this in mid-April 2018, the price for a bar of
regular cheese (e.g. cheddar, extra sharp, Swiss, etc.) sits at $2.08. Three
weeks ago the price was $1.74 for the same item. That’s an increase of 34 cents
in one fell swoop for a bar of cheese, a staple for poor people that is not
available at the local Soup Kitchen food bank.
Not content to let this increase slide by unnoticed, I first
went to the Customer Service Desk, and I was told that the lady at the CSD had
no idea for the radical price increase. However, she did say that she would let
the manager know about my complaint.
Bear in mind that Walmart advertises (usually in store) that
they lower prices “permanently”.
A week later, I spoke to a Walmart manager on the phone, and
was told that “some prices are always rising and falling”. I complained that every
supermarket does that—raise some prices while lowering some others. This was
nothing unique to Walmart.
I further asked why Walmart raises prices on food items that
poor people depend upon, such as cheese, instead of focusing upon raising
prices on items such as jewelry or perfume that rich people buy. Rich people
can more easily absorb price increases than poor people can on their items.
The manager responded that all decisions are made by Walmart
headquarters in Arkansas and that local managers have no control over which
items rise or fall in price. She gave me a number to call (1-800-WALMART), and
the folks at Walmart HQ will certainly be hearing from me.
I do give Walmart credit for having the kind of sports drinks that I like (e.g. Gatorade, Powerade, Ice, etc.) for about one-third the price of what I would have to pay at a convenience store. Still, I think Walmart has a greater obligation to keep prices down, given that they advertise “Thousands of Rollbacks, here to stay” or similar words.
I am wondering if others have noticed any trends at their
local supermarkets, Walmart or whomever. Do prices rise more quickly on food
staples that poor people buy? I would love to hear others’ comments.
Note: Paul F. Murray is a member of Wealthy Affiliate, a
legitimate source for extra income for anyone. Check out Paul’s website: www.wealthyaffiliatelegit.com,
and in particular his article “Wealthy Affiliate: a legitimate, non-scam