Kroger announces closure of 3 Los Angeles grocery stores after 'hero pay' ordinance

The Kroger Co. announced Wednesday that three grocery stores in Los Angeles will close after the 'hero pay' ordinance was approved.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- "I shop at Ralphs quite frequently. If it goes out of business, then where are we going? We only have them in a few neighborhoods," said community member Ozella Tims.

The Kroger Co. announced Wednesday that three of its stores will close in May.

A Ralphs at 9616 West Pico Blvd, another Ralphs at 3300 West Slauson Ave. and a Food 4 Less at 5420 West Sunset Blvd are scheduled to close on May 15 according to a company spokesperson.

"I hope this Ralphs doesn't close because this is the closest one to my house and I'm 87," said community member Esther Brown. "It seems like it's always crowded."

The closure of these stores will not only affect the lives of their employees but also the lives of the many lives of the community members in the area that rely on grocery stores like these to get their fresh produce and essential items.

"Ralphs is a pillar of the community, for it to be torn down would be terrible, I think that's ridiculous," said Ron Ron, a Ralphs customer. "They have enough to pay their employees another $5 an hour."

This decision comes after L.A. city passed the Hero Pay Act that requires large grocery stores and pharmacies to offer employees an additional $5 per hour in hazard pay.

"We need the grocery stores and for Kroger, not to want to give the essential workers additional money is wrong," Tims said.

A company spokesperson said the three stores are underperforming locations and after factoring increased operating costs due to COVID-19, the mandate would make keeping the stores open financial unsustainable.

"It's never our desire to close a store, but when you factor in the increased costs of operating during COVID-19, consistent financial losses at these three locations, and an extra pay mandate that will cost nearly $20 million over the next 120 days, it becomes impossible to operate these three stores," said a company spokesperson.

"It's unfortunate to close a grocery store when we already have an overpopulation of liquor stores in comparison to things like grocery stores and places where you can actually get fresh produce," said community member Roshawndra. "That's pretty demeaning, especially in this area."

About a month ago it was announced two Kroger stores in Long Beach are also closing on April 17 after the city enacted hero pay, increasing wages by $4.

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