After a successful effort to raise wages for many workers, Walmart staffers are focusing on a new goal: they want employee discount on more grocery items, as well as the 10% discount they already receive on all other merchandise.
The current deal includes fruits, vegetables and some snacks, but employees want that list to expand. Besides, Target and Whole Foods offer that perk, so it wouldn’t be an unprecedented move in the industry.
“It is ridiculous,” one Louisiana employee told Bloomberg News. “You can get a 10 percent discount on cat food, but if I buy tuna or chicken, I get no discount.”
An online petition started by a group of Walmart workers that demands the company widen the discount to include more grocery items has received 12,600 signatures from employees so far. The group plans to take the petition to store managers and executives this month.
The cost to Walmart to provide such a benefit could be pretty hefty: if all 1.4 million U.S. employees take advantage of the proposed 10% grocery discount and bought their food at work, it could add up to a $420 million tab for the company to cover.
A Walmart spokesman declined to say whether the company is considering the food discount, but said that the world’s largest retailer is always reviewing benefits. Last year, it offered $500 million in discounts, the spokesman added.
Though the company surveyed employees on which benefits they’d like, higher wages, better scheduling and more regular hours took priority over a food discount, the spokesman said.
But with competitors already on the grocery discount bandwagon, it could be hard for Walmart to resist if it wants to keep its workforce, experts say, especially under employee pressure. And besides, it’s just good business for Walmart to turn its workers into loyal customers: offering a discount will keep their grocery dollars at work, instead of going to rival grocery stores.