Stop & Shop, Hyde Square Task Force Disagree on Existence of ‘Pricing Inequities’ at Jamaica Plain Store

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Youth of the Hyde Square Task Force have made headlines from their research that claimed that prices differ of the same products depending upon individual Stop & Shop locations.

 

The youth met with Stop & Shop representatives last summer, providing their research from comparing prices at of stores in Jamaica Plain, Dorchester, Mission Hill, and Roxbury, and its Dedham location.

HSTF youth said that residents of low-income neighborhoods often pay more for groceries than suburban areas. Four of the youths recently sent a follow-up letter to Stop & Shop leaders about the issue, and proposed a solution.

"When we met with members of your team in late August, the company acknowledged the pricing differences and stated that prices are set to insure that each individual store makes a profit," said the letter. "The Stop & Shop team members also stated that the company serves low-income communities through food pantries. Since we published our initial findings on June 5, 2023, Stop & Shop has opened two new food pantries within a quarter mile of the Jamaica Plain store: one at the Dimock Health Center and one at Roxbury Community College."

The youth said while they are grateful for the new food pantries, they think Stop & Shop can do more "to address the inequitable food prices" and proposed a solution.

The youth learned that Stop & Shop's parent company Ahold Delhaize sells customer data to consumer goods advertisers, and that the company is going to make hundreds of millions of dollars from this common business practice. They said when they brought up the data collecting and selling of customer data to supermarket personnel in the meeting, that Stop & Shop stopped the meeting last August.

HSTF said Stop & Shop could use those profits and create price equity across its chain.

"We believe that this action would be aligned with Stop & Shop’s stated commitment to stand up to 'social injustice and inequality'," wrote the youth.

Stop & Shop said they will not disclose specific terms of real estate agreements, but they said that the cost per square foot of Stop & Shop's rent is higher in Jamaica Plain than in Dedham. Also, they do not consider a store neighborhood’s socioeconomic makeup when setting prices.

"We also noted that it is common industry practice for prices to vary by location based on factors including whether a property is owned or leased, rent, labor costs, store size, and store offerings. Additionally, we shared examples where we are able to keep prices at two city of Boston stores – Hyde Park and Roslindale – very similar to Dedham, in part due to having tenants at these locations that offset operating costs," said Jennifer Brogan, director of external communications & community relations for Stop & Shop. "Although individual items may differ in price, the overall store-to-store price differential is far less when you take a broad view across the tens of thousands of products available. Additionally, almost all weekly sale items are sold at the same price across all stores."

Brogan added that the students second research project last fall after meeting didn't include the Stop & Shop stores in Hyde Park or Roslindale, which they own. And the students didn't include any sale items in their follow-up research.

Also, citing the same Reuters article the students cited in their letter, Brogan pointed out that Ahold Delhaize already uses revenue from that advertising to keep costs down for customers.

She added that since opening its first in-school pantry in 2019, Stop & Shop has expanded the program to 225 in-school pantries across five states, 20 of which are in Boston.

HSTF youth said they planned on continuing to engage Stop & Shop to urge the business to lower prices by implementing their solution. But they have not reached out to the owner of Stop & Shop's Jamaica Plain location.

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