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Progressive Grocer's 1984 survey of buyers and merchandisers: part II.

Part I of Progressive Grocer's survey reported in last month's issue that the buyer's typical work week now exceeds 50 hours, with the largest portion consumed by paperwork. Despite the long hours, many say they are chronically short of time.

As a group, these executives have an average of 20 years experience in the grocery business. They tend to be quite satisfied with their jobs. If they had it to do over, three out of four would choose this kind of work. Interestingly, though, fewer than half would advise their children to enter the industry.

They have considerable team spirit and pride in their companies. Asked to rate the abilities of other buyers in their own and competing firms, responds give their colleagues a solid B+ and mark competitors at B-. Significantly, more than 80% expect to be working for their present companies five years from now.

Part II of the survey covers personal characteristics and attitudes. In many ways, chain and wholesale executives are very much alike. There is little difference in age, education, and in the leisure time activities most choose. They even worry almost to the same degree about specific conditions at work, at home, and in the country at large.

Notable variations do occur, however, in terms of the respondents' age. For example, regardless of affiliation, buyers under 35 are far more worried than those over 46 about pressures from management, being overworked, and having a real opportunity to get ahead. In fact, they are more disturbed about most aspects of their working life.

Compared to a similar survey in 1978, today's buyers and merchandisers show greater anxiety on the job. The average "worry level" on work-related subjects has increased substantially among both chain and wholesale executives.

Detailed findings appear on the following pages. Politics

Republicans outnumber Democrats in chain and wholesale organizations, and the industry as a whole tends to tilt toward the right wing side of moderate. The highest percent leaning in the liberal direction are in the 35-and-under group, but even there twice as many bend the other way. Habits * Smoking

Three out of 10 executives smoke cigarettes. * Drinking

Most buyers and merchandisers will take a drink. The highest number of abstainers (27%) is in the South. In the West, where 76% sip wine, only one out of 10 are tee-totalers. Leisure

What do buyers and merchandisers do when they get away from work? On a regular basis, they are most likely to have a cookout and then sit back to watch sports on TV. A substantial number consistently attend religious services, and many relax by eating out, gardening, and going to sports events.

Among things done at least occasionally, swimming ranks first. Movies, cards, and golf are very popular. More wholesalers than chain executives go fishing, and the reverse is true for legitimate theater. Worry Rating

Respondents were asked to rate their degree of concern on a scale of 1 (not a worry) to 7 (a very serious worry). The results were converted to a 0-100 scale to produce the "worry rating" shown here. Worries * Societal Conditions

Interestingly, respondents are more disturbed about conditions in the country at large than they are about their situation at work and at home. The prime worries can be summed up as a generalized feeling of impotence in coping with undesirable tends. They are troubled by the power of big government, but, paradoxically, are uneasy about government's inability to handle crime, corruption, and the economy. Overall, the worry pattern reflects the industry's conservative outlook. * At Work

During the working day, competitive pressures are the main cause of headaches for chain and wholesale executives alike. However, the chain people put pressure from management next, while wholesalers are relatively more worried about late or incomplete shipments. All hands feel they are overworked and fret about lack of status and limited opportunities to get ahead. College grads and the under-35 group are far in front in citing pressure from management and considering themselves overworked. Then and Now

Some notable changes have occurred in the six years since Progressive Grocer last conducted a survey of buyers and merchandisers. Present day executives, on average, are a bit older and have more formal education. They put in more hours at work and are somewhat less satisfied with their jobs, even though their pay has increased well above the inflation rate. They worry more about pressures from competition, being overworked, and spending enough time with their families. Nationally, they are less disturbed about the power of big government and big labor, but more concerned about possible U.S. involvement in war.
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Publication:Progressive Grocer
Date:Jul 1, 1984
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