Detroit -- The lack of major grocery stores has long been a quality-of-life problem in Detroit and one reason some families don't want to live in the city. Now, however, the situation is getting worse as the last two Farmer Jack stores in the city prepare to close by Saturday.
If no grocery stores buy the Farmer Jack locations from the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., Detroit will be left without a single national chain supermarket, much less a Wal-Mart or Meijer superstore or a Costco-style warehouse store.
Analysts say no other major city in America is such a supermarket desert. And it's not likely to change anytime soon.
Top 10 Reasons Retail Chains Stay Away from Detroit:
1. Profit margins at supermarkets are 1-5%. If shoplifting by customers and employees runs 7-8%, the store is doomed to lose money.
2. High cost of maintaining security for the stores, something most suburban locations don't need.
3. Shopping carts often disappear, at a cost of $300 per cart.
4. Personal safety for employees, with robberies, thefts and assaults both inside and outside the stores.
5. Difficulty finding qualified managers willing to run Detroit stores. Most prefer the suburban locations.
6. Problems seeking qualified workers for the stores. It can be a major undertaking to find employees who can pass reading, writing and math tests along with credit, criminal background and drug tests.
7. And there is a constant turnover of employees at stores in the city. "Its a human resource nightmare," said David J. Livingston, a supermarket expert from Wisconsin.
8. Declining population. No national chain wants to move into an area that is losing population.
9. Lower per-capita income. That means less expenditure on food.
10. Racism and discrimination accusations. If the store raises its prices because of higher costs of doing business, it is often charged with gouging minorities and the poor.