Here's What Grocery Store Workers Really Make

The dozens of different grocery stores — and megastores like Walmart — are a major employer for the U.S. workforce. According to The Washington Post, more than 3 million people in the United States work at a grocery store, stocking, bagging, scanning, and doing a number of other tasks to serve customers and keep Americans' pantries and refrigerators full. Grocery store employees might not get the acclaim of professional athletes or even doctors and firefighters, but without them, we'd be in big trouble.

Working at Costco, Whole Foods, or Kroger can often be tiring work, and depending on your job title, the pay might not be so great. In 2020, many grocery stores adopted "hero pay" and offered higher wages to their workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In many cases, though, those pay increases were only temporary. Let's take a look at what grocery store workers are making when there isn't a worldwide pandemic going on. From the baggers and cashiers to store managers, here's what grocery store workers really make at some of the biggest supermarkets in the U.S.

Rates are accurate at the time of publication, but are subject to change and may vary by location.


Even if you don't do your weekly grocery shopping at Kroger, there's a good chance that you've at least heard of the mega-grocery. According to Statista, Kroger is the largest grocery store chain in the United States and the second-largest retailer — trailing only behind the almighty Walmart.

Considering that Kroger is such a massive grocery store chain with 2,757 stores in operation, it takes an army of employees to keep those stores running. Macrotrends reported that in 2019, 453,000 people were employed by Kroger, which is more than the entire population of Minneapolis. So what sort of wage is Kroger employing this army of grocery store workers with? According to Indeed, as of July 2020, an average cashier at Kroger was making $10.31 an hour, while an assistant store manager made around $16.40 an hour. Baggers were the lowest paid at an average of $8.53 per hour.

A 2017 Reddit poll of Kroger workers yielded fairly similar findings with some employees chiming in to say they only made the federal minimum wage of $7.25, while others said they were making over $18 per hour (though that employee had been with Kroger for 16 years). As far as raises were concerned, that too seemed to vary from store to store. Some employees said they had never gotten a raise, and others said they had gotten raises of 50 cents.


Publix is another powerhouse company in the grocery world with the Florida-based chain spread throughout much of the Southeast. As of 2019, Publix employed 200,000 people, yet unlike the other grocery stores on our list, it's an employee-owned company. This means that Publix employees receive quarterly stock dividends without having to buy in, which makes for a pretty nice little perk.

One would think that an employee-owned grocery store would pay its grocery store workers higher wages than other grocers. That does seem to be the case at Publix — sorta. Yes, an average cashier salary at Publix of $10.81 per hour is higher than some on our list, but it's also lower than others. According to Indeed, baggers/stockers make an average of $9.14 per hour, while Publix claims that the store's general managers make an average of $123,000 per year.

How much Publix pays employees varies regarding the role, and those salaries don't always make a lot of sense. According to a Florida Publix pay sheet, in 2018, cashiers were being paid a minimum of $11 an hour, meanwhile, a butcher started at $13 an hour. The real kicker here is that a lead pharmacy tech (somebody with a high amount of responsibility) starts at only $11.70 an hour. That's right, the person responsible for getting your medications correct starts at only 70 cents more than the person scanning your produce.

Trader Joe's

If you're going to work at a grocery store, Trader Joe's should really be at the top of your list because they pay their crew members fairly well. The bottom rate for these grocery store workers is $11 an hour, which if you're keeping score, is nearly $2.50 more than Kroger. That said, most Trader Joe's crew members make considerably more than $11 with cashiers averaging $13.20 an hour and the average Trader Joe's employee pulling $16 per hour. Not too shabby, right?

Not only does Trader Joe's pay higher than many other grocery stores, but employees get a 10 percent discount (20 percent for the remainder of 2020) on their groceries, paid vacation days, and can get up to a 10 percent annual raise.

No job is perfect, but Trader Joe's employees who enjoy the job do seem to outnumber those who dislike it. One former employee on Reddit praised the benefits but did note that it was a physically demanding job. "I enjoyed my time there, but I wasn't able to physically keep up as well as my younger coworkers," the former crew member said. "I never earned a raise in the year I worked there." TLDR: Trader Joe's pays well, but they do expect you to work for it.


Working or shopping at Costco is going to be a different experience compared to most other grocery stores. The stores are bigger, the carts are bigger, and you can buy a sleeping bag a few aisles over from the frozen foods section.

According to Business Insider, Costco keeps those massive stores operating with the help of over 245,000 grocery store workers who do all sorts of tasks. Costco has also consistently raised its minimum pay rate over the years and now pays more than double the federal minimum wage and is competing with Amazon at $15 per hour.

Even before Costco bumped up its minimum pay in March of 2019, many employees were still making between $12 and $14 an hour. Those rates span across the board of Costco's grocery department and include everyone from cart collectors to employees in the deli and bakery departments. SFGate reports that a Costco store manager makes an average of $138,000, which is considerably more than the $95k a Trader Joe's store manager makes. Of course, managing a Costco is probably like running a small city enclosed in a giant warehouse.

Piggly Wiggly

Piggly Wiggly might not be the biggest or the fanciest grocery store on our list, but if there were a prize for "most fun name to say," it would have it in the bag. According to the grocery store's website, it's been in business for over 100 years and today operates 530 stores in 17 states, many of which are located in the South.

Considering that Piggly Wiggly has been in business for a century, it would be great if it didn't seem like it were stuck in the last century. Unfortunately, according to Indeed, wages seem to be lagging behind, and pay for some jobs is only slightly above the federal minimum wage — yikes! Cashiers reported an average of $7.64 per hour, and baggers/stockers reported a wage of $7.39 an hour.

A general store manager at Piggly Wiggly definitely isn't making a Costco salary, with an average of only $41,272 a year. If that job isn't available, try to skip the cashier and bagging positions and nab a job in the deli, meat, or bakery departments. Those roles pay a few bucks more than other grocery store worker positions at the store and range from a little over $11 an hour to around $14 per hour.


Unlike many of the big grocery stores, Save-A-Lot keeps things small in terms of store, selection, and staff. The stores, which often cater to shoppers on a stricter budget, have fewer items on their shelves and are only around 12,000 to 18,000 square feet. This, of course, pales in comparison to the massive 160,000 square feet of the average Kroger. Unfortunately, the pay at Save-A-Lot tends to be a bit on the smaller side as well.

According to Indeed, cashiers reported average earnings of $9.13 an hour, while grocery managers had an average salary of $29,479 a year. Those grocery store worker salaries might not be on par with Trader Joe's, but it's also not likely you'll find a Trader Joe's across the street from a Save-A-Lot grocery.

As for employee reviews for working at Save-A-Lot, they seem to be pretty mixed. Some employees on Indeed cited that there was room for advancement while other employees said the exact opposite. Your best bet may be to ask the employees of your local Save-A-Lot how much they enjoy it before putting in an application.

Whole Foods

If a grocery store such as Save-A-Lot is on one end of the bargain spectrum, Whole Foods is at the complete opposite. A grocery trip to Whole Foods is going to cost considerably more than any other grocery store on our list. (Hey, organic asparagus water doesn't come cheap, folks.) Whole Foods scandals aside, the grocery store does tend to pay its employees more than some of the other big grocery stores, so we can't knock them for that.

Whole Foods raised its minimum wage for grocery store workers in 2018 to $15 an hour, putting it far ahead of many other grocery stores. It's important to note, though, that this is mainly due to the grocery store being bought by Amazon in 2017. Now making $15 right out of the gate for a relatively low-skill job such as bagging groceries isn't too shabby. That said, the pay bump has drawn its fair share of criticism from Whole Foods employees who have complained that the pay raise came with a cut of their hours. "My hours went from 30 to 20 a week," one employee told The Guardian. You don't have to be an economist to see how this could be a hindrance to employee paychecks.

Walmart and Sam's Club

In terms of how much employees make working for Walmart and its sister store Sam's Club, well, those numbers are sort of all over the place. This isn't particularly surprising, considering that Walmart's grocery store worker positions range from store greeter and automotive technician to dentist. We're interested in grocery employees though, and according to Indeed, cashiers make an average of $10.82 an hour while a bakery manager makes an average of $13.04 per hour. Sam's Club pay rates seem to be a little different. The average cashier pay at Sam's Club is lower at $9.53 while the pay for a bakery manager is higher at $15.17. Good luck finding an explanation for the reasoning behind this.

A former employee of both stores told Reddit that Sam's Club is the better choice if you're looking for the highest pay. However, they also noted that moving up the job ladder may be more difficult. It's also worth pointing out that Walmart has come under fire for how it pays and treats its staff on more than one occasion. Sam's Club workers have revealed that they've been ordered to stay and clean after clocking out, and Walmart has been criticized for moving toward a majority part-time workforce (via Reuters).

On the plus side, Walmart announced in early 2020 that it's raising starting wages to $12 an hour in 500 of their stores.


Walmart and Aldi may both have a reputation for having low prices, but that's about all the two retailers have in common. Well, that and they're both run by heirs to a billion-dollar fortune. In terms of the grocery shopping experience, though, whereas Walmart has massive stores that employ a large staff, Aldi keeps things small.

There are fewer grocery store workers who run Aldi stores than you'll find at many other grocery chains, which means that employees are often asked to perform a number of different duties. According to Indeed, the average pay for a retail sales associate at Aldi is around $13.46 per hour. Keep in mind, though, those store associates do just about every task except bag groceries. This pay is still higher than some of the other grocery stores on our list, and according to an employee on Reddit, Aldi strives to keep its pay a few dollars higher than state minimum wages.

While some Aldi employees on Indeed complained that there was "no room" for advancement, others said the exact opposite. Those who do climb the ranks at this German-based grocery store can make a pretty good salary, too. The average general manager salary at Aldi is around $75,000 a year.


Next to Kroger, Albertsons is the second-largest grocery chain in the United States (via The Verge). Even if you don't have an Albertsons grocery store in your town, there's a good chance you have one of its sister grocery stores: whether it be Safeway, Randalls, Vons, or one of several other grocers listed on the company website. And, according to Forbes, the grocery company employs around 270,000 people.

So just how exactly does that massive workforce compare to the other grocery stores on our list, and what is Albertsons paying the grocery store workers who work in its hundreds of supermarkets? Looking at the Indeed profile pages of both Albertsons and Safeway, Albertsons cashiers only make slightly more at $12.47 per hour than Safeway cashiers at $12.17 per hour.

In 2020, employees in the Albertsons meat department made an average of anywhere from $11.86 an hour to $14.78 an hour, depending on the role. That's a bit higher than the $11.10 an hour an Albertsons employee told Reddit they were making in 2017. The pay at Albertsons might not be quite as high as Costco, but it sure beats Piggly Wiggly and is probably closest in comparison to Kroger or Publix.

Food Lion and Stop & Shop

You may not be familiar with the name Ahold Delhaize, but there's a good chance you've shopped at one of the company's thousands of grocery stores. Based out of the Netherlands, Ahold Delhaize owns grocery chains in numerous countries with the two most well-known chains in the States being Food Lion and Stop & Shop (via Grocery Dive).

Both Stop & Shop and Food Lion have been around for decades (Stop & Shop's been in business since 1914) and have stores scattered throughout the eastern half of the U.S. Regarding how much grocery store workers at both of these grocery chains really make, any similarities in pay depend on the position. Indeed reports that cashiers at Stop & Shop have an average hourly wage of $11.71 per hour, while cashiers at Food Lion tend to make between around $10 and $12 per hour.

Not surprisingly, jobs such as deli manager were a little bit higher at Stop & Shop, paying employees in the role $16.47 an hour and Food Lion paying $14.28. A store manager at Stop & Shop reportedly makes around $50,876 per year while an assistant store manager at Food Lion pulls in an annual salary of $47,395.


Instacart might not be your typical grocery store — since it has no actual stores — but it operates in over 5,500 cities and in 2020 said it would be hiring 300,000 grocery store workers (via TechCrunch). If it does indeed hire this many employees, it would mean that Instacart has more people working for it than both Costco and Publix, and it would put them behind only Kroger and Walmart in terms of grocery store employees.

Because Instacart functions differently than other grocery stores and hires workers to do customer's personal grocery shopping at the grocer of their choice, the pay is a little different too. How much Instacart shoppers make varies wildly. Determining an average pay rate is quite tricky since that rate depends on a host of variables such as delivery size, travel time, weight, and tip generosity. This means that some Instacart shoppers might make $120 a day, while others (probably a select few) claim to make $2,000 a week. Much like working for Uber or Lyft, you can make decent money or end up with a pretty measly paycheck for several hours worth of work.

Indeed reports that Instacart shoppers make an average of around $14.65 an hour (including tips), which would put them closer to a Whole Foods or Costco wage. Of course, with those jobs, you don't have to spend a good portion of your shift sitting in traffic.