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The Desert Sun reports on some of the efforts being used by Stater Bros. and its CEO, Jack Brown, in dealing with the tough times that consumers have been experiencing.


• “When the economy soured, grocery store staff began to stroll through the aisles more frequently and chat with shoppers and help keep spirits up.”

• Stater increased its private label penetration, offering lower-priced products to cash strapped shoppers.

• “As California parklands were devastated by wildfires, the Stater Bros. team began raising funds for reforestation and fire prevention. By April, its customers provided enough funds to plant more than 1 million new trees.”

• “When capital expansion across the nation came to a grinding halt, Stater Bros. opened a new store in Carlsbad.”

Brown tells the Sun, “Sales volume rose. Customers were buying less, but they gained in number. Wall Street jumped on me because our profits were down 66 percent by January 2009. But our point was, we held price. We didn't pass it off to the customers.

And what did that do for our year-end report for 2008? Our customer counts were up 70,000 a week across our stores — that's about a 5 percent increase. They were buying a little less, had less to spend. But our message was getting across.

“Now, six months into 2009, our customers are up 85,000 a week. When this recession is over, and it will be over, I know the message we're delivering is the right message.”
KC's View:
And a consistent one. Stater Bros. always has been terrific at establishing its image as being a procurement agent for the consumer, not a sales agent for manufacturers. That’s a real difference…and it transcends the bells and whistles often offered by fancier stores with bigger public relations departments and marketing budgets.