There is no denying it – thieves have become smarter. And grocery retailers in Delaware are not immune to the trend.
“All retailers are facing an uphill battle dealing with organized retail crime,” said Julie Miro Wenger, executive director of the Delaware Food Industry Council.
The DFIC has been working with other retail associations to form the Mid Atlantic Loss Prevention Symposium, which will be held in November. “We are partnering with New Jersey and Pennsylvania to hold the multi-state conference,” Wenger said.
She added that the DFIC also is participating in the Merchants Payments Coalition to look for “federal relief from the interchange fees passed on retailers from Visa and Mastercard.”
“We are asking our federal delegates to support our retailers by supporting…the Credit Card Competition Act,” Wenger said. “We recognize that most consumers don’t know that big banks and card networks like Visa and Mastercard charge merchants more than 2 percent of the customer’s total bill every time a credit card is used to make a purchase.”
She went on to note that credit and debit card swipe fees have more than “doubled over the past decade and soared 25 percent in 2021 alone to a record $137.8 billion.”
“Swipe fees are most merchants’ highest cost after labor,” Wenger said.
Delaware’s legislative session began in January. The DFIC expects to see a “number of bills” related to environmental issues resurface this year. The organization was successful last year in lobbying against a ban on polystyrene.
Delaware’s efforts to decrease plastic waste have been largely successful. Last year, the state passed a bill that banned all single-use plastic bags at checkout. According to a previous article in The Griffin Report, the lone exception was for category bags, “such as florist, fruits, vegetables and meat.”
“We are opposed to a bill that would ban polystyrene trays for meats, fish, poultry and fruits and vegetables,” Wenger said at the time. “We will continue to work on a compromise with the bill sponsor.”
The association expects regulations related to electronic vehicle mandates by 2035, as well as measures for the newly passed Paid Medical Leave Program.
As with so many sectors, grocers in Delaware are affected by lingering supply chain issues and workforce shortages, according to Wenger.
At the beginning of last year, the state still was operating under a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A statewide indoor mask mandate remained in effect. Both were lifted last February, though they were quickly replaced by inflation concerns.
“Inflation affects…every choice our customers make,” Wenger said. “We see customers changing their shopping habits and patterns, moving to more shelf stable and necessity-based shopping. We are seeing modest drops in [purchases of] fresh vegetable and high-end meats and instead more frozen foods and an increase in private label and coupon redemptions.”
For more information about Wegner from the Delaware Food Industry Council, click here for her LinkedIn profile.
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