by Jim Dudlicek / NGA Director, Communications and External Affairs
The president and CEO of Todos Neighborhood Market in Woodbridge, Virginia, shares his thoughts about the state of the industry for independent grocers and his outlook for the coming months.
- Challenges of the past year continue to linger into 2023, and despite a gradual easing of inflation, operators as well as consumers are still feeling the pressure. What are your expectations for the coming months?
We expect to continue to grow our sales by about 10 percent. Our competition is fierce, and we continue to deal with labor shortages as well as shortages of some products, as our suppliers are dealing with the same issues. We are working hard to bring into profitability our recently relocated and expanded store.
- What should policymakers understand about independent grocers as they consider legislation that will impact your business?
It’s very important to work on providing temporary work permits to recently arrived immigrants. This not only will help these families help themselves, but will contribute greatly to the health of our economy by incorporating this much-needed help. Temporary H-type visas for the industry can also help greatly because we could recruit much-needed workers with special skills, like butchers, bakers and cooks.
- More than three years after the pandemic began, how is your business different today?
It is a continued struggle. It seems like our entire team is in emergency mode, dealing with issues like the following:
– Increased shoplifting, also shoplifters that are not afraid of the law and come into stores as if they were coming into their home, and shop at their will and leaving without paying in a manner that shows that they have no respect for the law or store managers.
– Dealing with more aggressive customers.
– Stress level of the team, both at home and at work.
– A constant struggle to stock the stores.
– Decreased profits due to the above issues and the ever-increasing cost of merchandise and supplies, plus the constant increase of labor costs.
- What must independent operators do to ensure growth and success?
Keep our cool and continue to grapple with all the issues that we are facing.
- If you weren’t in the grocery industry, what would you be doing?
Investing in real estate.