Biggest Retail Strike Since 2003 Sent Shoppers to Competition

(Bloomberg) -- Even as Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. get battered by rival Amazon.com Inc.’s decision to speed up free shipping, the mega retailers do have something to cheer.

The big box giants were two of the winners as Stop & Shop’s 11-day strike sent New England shoppers flocking to competitors.

Biggest Retail Strike Since 2003 Sent Shoppers to Competition

The work stoppage at Dutch-Belgian retailer Ahold Delhaize’s biggest U.S. banner was the largest strike in the retail sector since 2003, and sent sales plummeting more than 80 percent at the chain’s stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, according to Earnest Research. The strike, which ended over Easter weekend when the retailer reached a tentative agreement with local unions, also prompted Ahold Delhaize to lower its full-year profit forecast.

Walmart, the nation’s biggest grocer, and fellow mass merchant Target were able to capture a chunk of the spending that was up for grabs, Earnest said. Smaller regional chains like Big Y, Shoprite and Shaw’s also benefited. But most New England shoppers weren’t in the mood to trade up to Whole Foods Market, which only grabbed 3 percent of the available spending.

Ahold declined to comment.

Amazon announced Thursday that it will spend $800 million this quarter to cut delivery times to one day from two for its top customers, heightening pressure on rival retailers. Walmart shares sank as much as 3.7 percent Friday, the biggest intraday drop since December, while Target tumbled as much as 8.6 percent, the most since November.

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