Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Acme's Trying To Get Better...

AGAIN.

On March 12th, a comment came in to the latest discussions post about a memo that was addressed to the employees of each and every store. Changes were underway to improve Acme... yet again. It  seems Acme went drastically off course toward the end of 2016, at least that's what this Acme shopper observed. Out of control prices and deteriorating service. In recent weeks, I had left some comments on the blog which mentioned the troubling trends I was seeing. An Acme employee wrote in to share some behind-the-scenes information in to let me know drastic improvements were coming soon. Turns out that Jim Perkins, former chief or operations for the Easter Division, had returned after being transferred to the Texas division. last year The person who had replaced him was from Safeway and decided to run Acme as a Safeway clone which lead to higher prices and declining service. Fortunately, that person no longer is involved with Acme and Mr. Perkins is fast-tracking some huge improvements to get Acme back on track!

PRICES ARE ON THEIR WAY
BACK DOWN! 

And not a moment too soon! The memo that was sent to stores listed several initiatives that Acme is undertaking to drive sales including the lowering of hundreds of "super sensitive items" around the store. These prices went into effect on March 3rd. I haven't necessarily seen any regular prices go down but I have noticed a HUGE increase sale items. In fact, on my last shopping trip to Acme, every single grocery and household item I purchased was on sale. Some of the items have very rarely been on sale in the past. It's doesn't' seem Acme intends to launch another price-lowering campaign but they are adding "Xtra Savings" shelf-tags around the store to call out the new savings. You can see some examples below.







The "Something More for Less" shelf-tags, that used to number in the hundreds up and down every aisle, are thankfully gone. I tend to think that campaign ran it's course a while ago. The "Xtra" tags are bright, bold and more to the point. Walk up and down any aisle and you see there's no denying that Acme has just slashed prices.

ACME'S FRONT-END DISASTER! 

While I do think all of this is a step in the right direction, Acme has one very serious problem on it's hands that does not seem to be getting addressed. It all began with the removal of the self-checkouts. Oh sure, they want the customers to have interactions with the employees. Sounds great on paper but what happens when their aren't nearly enough cashiers on duty to handle the customers? Everybody gets pissed off. Plain and simple. In most North Jersey stores I'm in, I find the FOUR self-checkouts that have been removed have been replaced by only two to three manned registers. A few weeks ago, I visited a bunch of converted stores for the blog on a Saturday afternoon... prime grocery shopping time. Every single store I was in, with the exception of one location, had only THREE registers open and most of those stores had long lines. In Elmwood Park, the lines were so bad at the three open registers, I gave up trying to buy a bottle of water and protein bar and just walked out. A few weeks ago I was in New Providence. TWO registers open with long lines and neither register was express. The Fort Lee store NEVER has an express register open when I'm in there.

Hey, don't take my word for it. Type in any North Jersey or New York Acme into Yelp and read the reviews. You will see endless complaints about the removal of the self-checkouts and the ridiculously long lines at store after store after store. You'll even find people leaving comments on Acme's very own Fresh Press Blog about the long lines and lack of open registers under posts that have nothing to do with service. There seems to be an overall lack of front-end management in these stores. Edgewater is the only Acme I know of that has a front-end manager on duty monitoring the lines. In other stores I'm in regularly, I have watched managers walk along the front-end completely unfazed by the insane lines at the 2 to 3 open registers. Wow, what a change from the days that I worked at Acme. Long lines = getting every employee who had the slightest clue about running a register ON a register. These days customers stand in frustratingly long lines with plenty of time think twice about ever coming back to Acme. My advice to Acme, which they'd never take but here goes... BRING BACK THE SELF CHECKOUTS!!!!

29 comments:

  1. Glad they're lowering prices again. I really don't understand the removal of self-checkouts either, especially if they're going to be understaffed. Meanwhile, letters continue to fall - when I was in the Clark Acme the other day, the second A in "Guaranteed" was missing from the Lancaster Meats sign.

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  2. What a shame that these service problems are chainwide. I made the mistake of trying to eat lunch in the Saddle Brook store, which has a great prepared foods selection. However, the entire counter had no employees behind it, and all the hot food was behind the counter. I waited a good 20 minutes in the deli line (there were only two deli employees), and then for almost 10 more minutes in the EXPRESS checkout line, one of only three total registers open.

    When ACME first opened in the northern-NJ acquired stores, they had the friendliest employees of any major chain around, and they were the convenience choice for many (over ShopRite or Stop & Shop). But the understaffing problems that are more common in the urban Supremos and Western Beefs seem to be a big issue for them now.

    Let's hope that ACME is smart enough to realize that they can only lose business by continuing to provide a shopping experience that is mediocre at best. The most successful and best supermarket chains listen to their customers if there's something wrong, and respond to it.

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    1. I seriously wonder if Acme has a 3-cashier-maximum policy at most of these North Jersey stores. Makes the removal of 4 self-checkouts even more infuriating.

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    2. Yeah, come to think of it, there was a similar situation in the deli/hot foods area at Clark the other day. Something needs to be done about the understaffing.

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  3. Jim Perkins predecessor had nothing to do with the prices. The shrink percentage (the amount thrown away or stolen) was going though the roof in the new stores due to poor management and reduced hours. To cover the losses and make gross profit they increased the prices. Now they are paying the price again. Albertsons is sending new leadership in to hopefully right the ship.

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    1. that's what happens when you over cut in the meat department,you over fill in the produce department, and you over fill fillets in the Seafood case,far above what your business can support. You throw out a lot of product. Fresh Seafood Fillets at over @10 bucks a pound will kill any shrink.

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    2. I'd blame some of the rougher stores that were inherited from A&P, like the one in Weehawken where the "mini carts" disappeared within the week. Introducing a bunch of stores with high shrink/low income areas is going to hurt a chain. I have a lot of theories on why the North Jersey stores have suffered so much, but I'm going to keep them to myself.

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    3. Hmmm... would love to hear more about the Weehawken Acme being a "rougher store". And what exactly are you implying with the word “rough”? Certainly not a word I would use to describe the store or the area but I'm not much of an expert on the area. I just live here.

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  4. The Hamilton Square store still has the self checkouts. I hope they keep them!

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  5. We still have the self checkouts in Phoenixville. Thankfully so, because the service at this store is way below average. If you go to the Paoli store, complete 360. Most every lane is open and very good customer service. If Acme operated every store like they do Paoli, Acme would be one hell of a good grocery chain.

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    1. Fun fact: Judy Spires (former ACME President) always shopped at Paoli when she ran the company. THAT is why Paoli was always such a different shopping experience.

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    2. or they would go out if Business. Paoli does the Business to support all of the registers being opened, Phoenixvile dosent

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  6. That's the reason why I don't go along with the canard that "putting self checkouts in costs people's jobs". You have Weis Markets in my part of the state (PA) that removed them from some of the stores for the same 'reasoning' ("oh we'd rather give that personal touch that a machine can't") and guess what...the same thing you're experiencing: maybe 1 or 2 lines open 4 or 5 people deep.

    The store getting rid of 4 or 6 self checkouts isn't going to result in the same number of regular lanes being open. Doesn't work that way.

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    1. I realize it doesn't work that way but from a customer's perspective, it should!

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    2. The self checkouts really need to come back. I think it is a growing trend that most people, especially younger people, are not doing one large shopping trip on a weekly basis, but instead, picking up items here and there as needed. If I know I have to run into a store for 2 or 3 items, I'll definitely go to a place that I can get in and out quickly vs. having to wait in line 10 minutes. This should especially hold true for their locations closer to NYC. I know since Target added self-checkouts, I'm in there much more frequently than I was before (the location nearest to me has always been awful about staffing the front end).

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  7. Whose dumbass idea was it to remove the self-checkouts anyway? I say we tar and feather him, then put him on display in the Deli case of a random store.

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    1. It all started with Albertsons LLC in 2011.

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  8. Sadly, I stopped shopping at King of Prussia's ACME when the self checkouts were removed.

    I ALWAYS use self checkout when I visit any grocery store. ACME made a huge mistake with this change.

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  9. In the big book of savings that is being released tomorrow there is a coupon for $5 when you spend $25 of the Signature line. Overall not a bad deal.

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    1. I've been pleasantly surprised with the quality of the Signature products I've tried.

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  10. After about two months of cashiers quitting/fired, 19th and Oregon is finally hiring some new people. Also new (white) plastic bags are being phased in with the new tagline: "Your favorite LOCAL supermarket"

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  11. I'm seeing the same problem in PA since the self-checkouts were removed. It's no longer a store to buy a few items. 15 or fewer line is rarely opened- used to be 4 self checkouts plus the express. Now it's 1 or 2 10 or fewer checkouts. Deli is understaffed and more expensive than mom and pop stores. Started making fewer trips to Acme and more to ShopRite.

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  12. Sad but the massive Mahopac NY store which was completely remodeled is always dead! Stop&Shop right next door and Stop&Shop is no bargain if you ask me. Once a chain or store gets a reputation for high prices and poor service they're done. A&P Mahopac was a very busy store. When S&S opened next door, the A&P lost about 100,000 a week in business and they were doing well over 1/2 a million a week. They remained busy even after S&S opened but now it's a cavernous empty store with rotting food and high prices. It's a shame.

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  13. I have found the Milltown Acme to be a lot busier since the demises of the East Brunswick Pathmark (in the first round of A&P closures) and the North Brunswick A&P in the final liquidation .

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  14. They are reconfiguring the Acme in Saddle Brook, NJ. I have three pictures I can send to you.

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  15. Technically, there is no "Texas Division"...at Albertsons peak in 2001, there was the San Antonio division (stores from Austin to South Texas, including a lot of old Skaggs stores), Dallas-Fort Worth (which went up to North Texas, also included a lot of Skaggs stores bought later), and Houston (which went as far east as Gulfport MS and was much newer...the oldest stores in the division dated back to roughly the late 1980s). Safeway had the Texas Division, which was the combined Randalls/Tom Thumb company, with stores in Houston, Dallas, and Austin. The Randalls stores deteriorated under Safeway, with a major round of closings in 2005. By 2003, Albertsons had closed San Antonio and Houston, with the remaining stores in Austin and Louisiana being re-grouped with the Dallas-Fort Worth division (later renamed South after Florida was axed). The LLC days purged the Austin stores but largely spared Louisiana, as well as adding United in north Texas (stores were either divested or later transferred).

    When Safeway was bought, the Tom Thumb stores in the Texas Division went over to the South Division while the Louisiana stores went to the old Texas Division, which was renamed Houston Division, giving Albertsons a Houston Division again (technically).

    Unfortunately, despite putting someone from United at the top, there was still enough Safeway influence that Houston did not improve and the Louisiana stores got worse. Recent news is that the plug has been pulled on the Houston division and it will combine into South but won't lose the stores. One hopes that the better-run South division (which announced a number of new stores and remodels) will finally cure the Houston division and not poison those stores.

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  16. Incredible that they would eliminate self checkouts in the bustling Northeast markets. Do they think there more shoplifting per capita there via the self check out lines or something?
    In the southeast usa where I live, Kroger and Publix are doubling down to even have Express self check out lines -two, three or four closely spaced units that you can't pull a large cart up to with one bag stand only- along with the standard self check out area of 4-6 stations that have three bag stands on the weighing counter. And these function in places that regularly sell beer and wine requiring attendant override for legal ID check each time.
    Heck, many Wal-Marts now have a self check out "corral" of 8-12 stations monitored by one attendant with a specific entrance and exit versus the lanes found in grocery store self check out lines.

    Kroger also has a nifty register schedule screen that is time predicting the upcoming number of registers needed based on the customers counted entering the store. It is three bubbles showing thr current time's number of manned register requirements, and the next two 1/2 hour increment registernumber requirements ( I think).

    Lew

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  17. It seems that Safeway in general is poisonous to everything it touches- what exactly can be done to stem their influence, and what is the source?

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  18. The Acme on Bristw Road and Hulmeville Road in Bendalem also has the Self Checkouts

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