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Grocers, Food Retailers Spent $24 Billion on COVID Costs

A new study examines the grocery and retail food sector’s spending costs during the coronavirus pandemic

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A new study finds grocery retailers have spent $24 billion in COVID-19 pandemic-related costs.

According to a new report by The Food Industry Association (FMI; Arlington, Va.) titled, “Receipts from the Pandemic: Grocery Store Investments Amid COVID-19 and the Resulting Economics of an Essential Industry,” the United States food retail sector spent roughly $24 billion on costs directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Supermarket News reports that because of this, many grocers anticipate a profits decrease during 2021.

During the course of the pandemic through recent months, food retailers found themselves spending money on preventative and sanitary measures such as making stores safe for customers and employees, safety gear and products and labor costs, as well as technology to support online shopping, and even preparation measures to administer COVID-19 vaccines, from refrigeration and software to training and education.

“Based on our survey data, smaller food retailers — those who operate 10 stores or fewer — report spending roughly $50,000 per store on safety related expenses. Conversely, larger operators, or those with more than 10 locations, spent about $24,000 per store,” says FMI President and CEO Leslie Sarasin, reports Supermarket News.

The report derived information surveyed from 52 of its member companies that represent approximately 40 percent of the food retail industry that operate throughout the U.S. and Washington, D.C. This equates to roughly 14,000 stores with 2 million employees.

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