Wal-Mart likes to say that competing businesses just get sharper when the big retailer comes to town, but workers at Winn-Dixie have had nothing but Lose-Dixie since the Arkansas grocer came calling. We have reported past losses at Winn-Dixie, but the company has announced this week another 156 of its stores will close (mostly in the midwest states), and as many as 10,000 workers will lose their jobs. It will take a lot of Wal-Mart supercenters to make up for that job loss, and the payroll loss as workers move to lower-paying big box job will mean millions of dollars in lost wages. The Florida-based grocer, with most of its sales in the southeast, saw its stock rise as it announced the loss of jobs. Winn-Dixie’s sales numbers were in a tailspin, with same store sales (those open at least a year) fell -6.4%. An account in Reuters this week explained that Winn-Dixie’s customer has the same demographic as Wal-Mart’s, suggesting that pressure from Wal-Mart has been undoing Winn-Dixie. The smaller retailer will be left with only 922 stores. The Wall Street term for these massive worker layoffs is “restructuring”, but for the thousands of Winn-Dixie employees, its just a pink slip.
Isn’t it remarkable how Wall Street will boost the stock of a company that lays off 10,000 workers? The industry analysts say that Winn-Dixie is biting the bullet, and doing what it had to do, and so the stock gets a bounce up, when the workers get bounced out. The rotting of Winn-Dixie’s grocery empire is just another sign that what companies like Wal-Mart are doing is just shaking more fruit to the ground, and leaving less trees standing. This is not economic development, just shifting market share. Now 156 new communities have to deal with more dead stores on their hands.