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Are you part of the new breed of grocery workers.png Getty Images

Are you part of the new breed of grocery workers?

Technology, analytics are redefining roles, according to new executive salary data

Job titles in the grocery industry are not necessarily changing, but the scripts are starting to flip, according to new executive salary data. 

Just several years ago, grocery retailers were looking for those who were arms deep in the grocery business to fill middle management positions. Grocery retail experience was a must. 

However, in a short amount of time, job requirements are now reflecting a fast changing industry where analytics and business intelligence are critical to a chain gaining competitive advantage. This finding is reflected in recently released 2023 executive salary data compiled by Austin-Michael, a Golden, Colo.-based executive search firm specializing in grocery retail. 

“Analytics are playing a bigger part in the organizational makeup of these companies,” said Austin-Michael managing general partner Jose Tamez.. “Analytics, data, and business intelligence are beginning to play such a huge part in the value channel, in the value chain, that now those skill sets and the demand for those skill sets is growing pretty quickly.”

Tamez said analytics, data, and business intelligence all now play a vital role in business decisions up and down the organizational chart, so it only makes sense to bring in talent that knows how to interpret the numbers. 

Job responsibilities are also getting added to titles for grocery workers due to tech allowing more functions to be carried out by fewer individuals. 

“Now you have one person who can do two functions, possibly even three with the help of technology,” Tamez said. “You are going to see organizational charts getting tighter and tighter because of some of these very things.” 

Bringing in workers with more technical experience, along with beefing up  job responsibilities, are two reasons why grocery salaries are going to shift in the coming years, Tamez said.

The change is going to cost grocers.

“We’ve had a couple of years of what I’ll call incremental movement in the base salaries,” Tamez said. “I would expect to see movement start to happen. And I think where the movement will start to happen is in the middle, upper middle management jobs.”

Upper middle management captures the growth

CEO salaries stagnated in 2023, with numbers that virtually mirror the salary reports of 2022. Annual base salaries for CEOs in 2023 ranged from $645,000 at small chains, $910,000 at medium-sized companies ($2 billion - $10 billion in annual sales) and $1.9 million at large companies (with sales of more than $10 billion).

However, base salaries for CMO and CIO roles increased across the board.

Upper middle management saw the most salary growth. The SVP of Merchandising, the SVP of Operations, the VP of Grocery, the VP of General Merchandising, the VP of Meat/Seafood, the VP of Real Estate, and the VP of HR all received raises for small, medium-sized, and large grocers. 

From middle management down there was little change. 

Bonuses, on the other hand, continued to boost salaries at a time when record profits are being pulled in by retailers. 

“A position that was a bonus of 30% to 40% is now 45% to 50%,” said Tamez. “Now, why is that? Because inflation continues to persist and it allows you to keep base salaries at a level otherwise you wouldn’t be able to.”

Bonus pay continues to prevent job hopping in the industry, as well, translating to a reduction in job openings and allowing employers to keep base salaries stagnant. 

Employee retention, however, remains a problem for grocery retailers at the departmental level. Meat and seafood tend to keep workers longer, and Tamez said the pay has increased in some areas, but overall, challenges remain. 

“I think [the grocery industry] has done a good job rewarding their store level associates and the people in the field,” he said. “It’s a pretty stable business to be in.” 

Walmart treats its managers

Earlier this year, Walmart announced that its managers would receive an increase in pay and a redesigned bonus plan. 

The retail giant’s new starting annual base wage for managers will now range from $90,000 to $170,000, moving the average up to $128,000. Previously, store managers were pulling in $65,000 to $170,000. According to Walmart, about 75% of store managers started with hourly pay.

The bonus program for the floor leaders also is being revamped. Profits will play a bigger role, and if a manager hits all their goals for the year, they could double their base salary. Bonuses used to lean heavily on sales rather than profits.

A few weeks later, Walmart President and CEO John Furner announced on his LinkedIn page that store managers will also receive an annual grant of company stock starting this year. The stock bonus could be as much as $20,000 annually depending on the size of the store.

“A Walmart store manager is running a multimillion-dollar business and managing hundreds of people,” Furner said on LinkedIn. “And it’s a far more complex job today than when I managed a store. We ask our managers to own their role and act like owners. And now, they’ll literally be owners.”

Tamez said the move is more for retention than anything else, but also agreed with Furner in terms of the workload, which is a heavier lift compared to someone running a Shaw’s or Schnucks grocery store. 

“[Walmart’s] commitment to retention and as a pathway to doing that, recognizing the loyalty of people in the field has now come to fruition,” said Tamez. 

The pending $24.6 billion merger between Kroger and Albertsons also continues to generate a lot of questions in terms of changes to labor, and when it comes to salaries Tamez believed it would have an impact on the industry, and more than likely, base salaries would increase. 

However, he noted that it will also depend on the scale of the merger approved. 


According to new executive salary data, the role of the grocery store worker is starting to change. In fact, some retailers are hiring people with no grocery experience due to how the industry is relying more on analytics and tech. Do you see this happening at your store? Let us know in the comment below, or email the SN staff at [email protected]

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