Natural Grocers Becomes Latest Retailer to Pay Up

Natural Grocers

Photograph courtesy of Natural Grocers

Amid an exceptionally tight labor market, Natural Grocers is the latest grocery chain to increase pay for its hourly store crew members. All current hourly store employees across the Lakewood, Colo.-based grocers’ 162 stores in 20 states received a $1 per hour pay increase starting Oct. 4, raising the companywide average hourly pay for full-time crew to $18.43, including $1 per hour in “Vitamin Bucks,” which can be used for in-store purchases. Additionally, the company is increasing the starting wage for new hourly store crew, effective Oct. 18, boosting the hourly pay rate for entry-level positions to a range of $14 to $18, including Vitamin Bucks.

“Competitive pay, helping provide our crew members a wage and benefits package that we believe is one of the best in the retail grocery business is the most meaningful investment we can make,” Natural Grocers Chairman and Co-President Kemper Isely said in a statement. “It’s rooted in our Five Founding Principles, which include ‘Commitment to our good4u Crew,’ and ‘Commitment to our Community.’ When we can retain people who are aligned with our values and provide growth-oriented career opportunities, we are investing in our community as well.”

Natural Grocers is the latest among a spate of retailers to boost wages for hourly workers. Walmart, the nation’s leading retail employer, says while its minimum wage is now $12 an hour, its average hourly wage in the U.S. is $16.40. In March, Kroger, which operates approximately 2,740 stores, said it planned to raise its average hourly wage to $16 by the end of the year.

More recently, the Portland, Ore.-based New Seasons Market and New Leaf Community Markets—independent operators within the Good Food Holdings family of brands—announced a starting wage increase to $16.25 per hour for staff across Oregon, Washington and California, effective Oct. 6. In addition to higher starting pay, the grocers said they will adjust wage scales in order to recognize the contributions of all hourly store staff. These wage investments will raise the average pay of current hourly staff to $19.98 per hour across banners.

Earlier this month, Schnucks Markets Chairman and CEO Todd Schnuck announced a companywide wage increase that took effect for eligible teammates on Oct. 11. The increased wages apply to current and future Schnucks store, bakery plant and floral design center teammates, with the exception of baggers. Store and facility teammates who were not already earning $12.10 per hour will receive the increase to that amount, and deli, meat and seafood teammates not currently making $12.75 will be brought up to that level, according to the company.

St. Louis-based Schnucks further noted that many of its union teammates currently at top rate will have contract increases that were slated for Jan. 1 accelerated two months ahead of schedule for a Nov. 1 effective date. The wage increases follow news of a one-time performance and retention bonus, which pays up to $600 in January 2022.

In addition to an hourly wage increase, Natural Grocers offers a variety of additional benefits, including Vitamin Bucks, a program that allowsall full-time and part-time crew members to earn $1 for each hour worked to help purchase supplements, groceries, body care products and more from Natural Grocers. The grocer also offers holiday pay, employee discounts, paid time off, a 401k retirement savings plan, paid parental and medical leave, and fast-track career advancement.  

“Our mission of educating our communities about good nutrition and affordable, healthy food is more critical now than ever, and it’s fueled, as always, by our crews’ dedication, talent, and hard work. We’re grateful to each and every one of them for sharing their unique gifts with us in this journey of making our neighborhoods and our planet a healthier place,” said EVP Heather Isely. “Supporting our crew with competitive wages and a robust benefits package is just one way of showing our appreciation for the crew’s extraordinary efforts and commitment to keeping their communities rooted in health.”

Natural Grocers is currently hiring cashiers, head cashiers, grocery and bulk department managers, produce department assistants, receiving managers, vitamin and body care assistants, and nutritional health coaches.


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