What's next for stores after Albertsons/Safeway merger?

What's next for stores after Albertsons/Safeway merger? »Play Video

Local customers of Safeway and Albertsons want to know how the merger will affect them and their favorite stores. The KATU Problem Solvers asked the two companies for answers.

Hundreds of people commented on KATU's Facebook page about the merger. Some wondered about whether costs would rise.

 Loretta Sims Colangelo wrote: "Don't like it. Now prices will go up."

 Angela Corll added: "Prices are going to go through the roof."

 And Karla Hafdahl said: "Oh great, now the prices will be twice as high."

 An Albertsons spokeswoman told the Problem Solvers by e-mail that the two companies are working to bring prices down.

"Right now, we are focused on building a stronger organization that can better meet the demands of our customers in a highly competitive marketplace," said spokeswoman Christine Wilcox.

"After closing, driving operational efficiency will enable Albertsons and Safeway to deliver the best products to more customers at lower prices, faster and more efficiently than ever before. In fact, we believe these cost savings will enable Safeway and Albertsons to deliver price reductions to customers in stores across the country," she added.

In news reports online, industry analysts said the two companies need to unite to stay competitive with other companies that may offer lower prices and are luring customers away from Albertsons and Safeway.

Other people expressed concern on Facebook that Safeway and Albertsons stores would close down.

Renae Miller wrote: "I think it's another way for the 1 percent to screw the rest of us! Meaning they will more than likely close stores that are close together and people will lose jobs! Gggrrrr."

Safeway said in a press release: "No store closures are expected as a result of this transaction."

Analysts said in reports online that the merged company may have to sell off stores if they end up with too many in one area, possibly violating anti-trust laws.

Some commenters on KATU's Facebook page said they did not want the stores to change things they liked.

Calvin James Lay said: "Albertsons deli is good now. Don't change a good formula."

The Safeway spokesperson said there is no decision yet on what will happen to the gas rewards program and the Just for U program at Safeway. 

The current CEO and president of Safeway, Robert Edwards, who will also be the CEO and president of the combined company, talked about the issue during an investor call Thursday.

"I think that clearly our use of data is very key to our loyalty programs and the success we have had there,” said Roberts. "We have to operate independently until the closing, and we are -- currently anticipated that will be in the fourth quarter of this year." 

"No decisions yet on how the combined company might operate going forward," Roberts added. "Lots of issues to think about, including loyalty and many others. But it's a significant strength of Safeway currently."