Just as pressure builds on the grocery workers, the toll on the supermarkets keeps climbing by millions of dollars a day, especially now that Thanksgiving has arrived and Christmas is approaching.
The holiday period represents about 10% of annual sales for the three chains in the labor dispute.
The companies -- Albertsons Inc., Kroger Co.'s Ralphs and Safeway Inc.'s Vons and Pavilions -- are together losing $40 million a week in sales to a group of eight smaller chains, including Stater Bros. Holdings Inc., Trader Joe's Co. and Whole Foods Market Inc., Mark Husson of Merrill Lynch & Co. said in a recent report.
Albertsons, Kroger and Safeway have refused to discuss their losses, but with more than $30 billion apiece in annual sales, they have considerable staying power.
They're also motivated to hang tough. The supermarkets want to use the Southern California contract as a template that will lower their labor expenses elsewhere as other employee contracts come up for renewal.