December 7 2009, 9:53 AM
As far as the pecking order goes among local supermarkets, King Soopers is king---that is, Colorado's dominant grocer. As for Safeway, it's still number two, but has been losing ground since 2001, when discounters such as Walmart Supercenter and SuperTarget began to enter the market. In 2001, Safeway held 24.3 percent of the market and Walmart held 2.5 percent. Today, Safeway claims 19.6 percent of Denver metro-area grocery purchases and Walmart claims 19.1 percent, according to the Shelby Report, which tracks the industry (via The Denver Post). In an effort to lure customers, Safeway has lowered its prices---from 10 to 44 percent---on "thousands" of store items. It's unclear how Safeway's price slashing will affect wage and benefits negotiations with union workers, who could strike if a deal isn't reached. But King Soopers is advertising for replacement workers should there be a strike by United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7, notes the Denver Business Journal. So far, Safeway officials don't have any plans to advertise for workers. The company hopes to avoid a work stoppage, and one theory is that the grocers don't believe the new union leadership is strong enough to strike, as Westword reports in an in-depth feature that goes to the heart of Local 7's internal political battle.