Warrior Shoppers

July 2nd, 2010 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on Warrior Shoppers

The job numbers that came out this morning were certainly no cause for celebration. We saw our economy shed 125,000 jobs for the month of June. It is worth noting however, that over the past 8 months, we have had positive job growth, and although not nearly where we need to be, it is still improvement. I mention all of this because in several past articles I’ve written about the effects of this recession on the organic and natural foods industry. It’s wise to consider unemployment as a very significant factor in everyone’s business model. It makes sense – if people aren’t working they typically need to make dramatic cutbacks in how they spend their money.

There are some new numbers that just came out from Pew Research that tell an even more elaborate story. These numbers look beyond unemployment, and focus on wage decrease. What we see from this research affects even more people than unemployment, (although not as harshly) and directly impacts consumer spending, which naturally affects all of our business.

Here’s what Pew found:

– Among the still employed, 74% have taken some kind of pay cut, numbers that we have not seen in previous recessions.

– More than six-in-ten Americans (62%) say they have cut back in their spending since the recession began in 2007.

– About half the public (48%) say they are in worse financial shape now than before the recession began. Government data shows that the average household wealth fell by about 20% from 2007 to 2009.

– A third (32%) of adults now say they are not confident that they will have enough assets and income to finance their retirement.

These are some pretty staggering numbers. But amidst all of this, the organic and natural foods industry continues to grow, albeit at a much smaller percentage than in previous years. This makes these numbers seem even more remarkable. Statistically speaking, most shoppers who enter your store have taken a financial hit of sorts over the past couple of years; and yet, they continue to pursue a lifestyle choice that they feel deeply committed to. Perhaps spending less money on food and making more conventional choices would ease their financial woes right now. Instead, they remain committed to buying organic and natural foods.

If you haven’t already been thinking about ways to thank and acknowledge these wonderful people who walk through your door, it’s time! Many of your customers, even during an incredibly challenging time, are holding firm to their commitments and values; and as a result supporting your business. They believe in their health, they believe in the health of future generations, and they believe in the health of our planet. Perhaps it’s time that we start referring to these amazing people as something other than our customers. They are indeed family, and they deserve our deepest respect, and utmost thanks. They are true stewards of the earth, whose contributions right now extend far beyond just buying good food. They are warriors . . . organic and natural foods warriors. We should thank them.