Military commissaries closed by sequester

Charles Schumer (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) hold a news conference on the eve of the budget sequester on February 28, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Starting today through the end of September, commissaries -- military grocery stores -- will close every Monday. That kicks off an 11-day furlough for U.S. civilian employees, part of mandatory federal spending cuts. More than 14,000 employees of the Defense Commissary Agency will be affected. In the meantime, customers will have to find another day to stock up on grub. 

But how many times do you see people jamming the grocery aisles on a Monday?

"We planned for Monday because it was one of our slowest days," says Gary Frankovich, chief of public affairs for the Defense Commissary Agency. He says even so, it's still going to cut into the bottom line. Sales in fiscal 2010 were around $6 billion.

"You know it's like your local restaurant who shuts down for lunch one day a week," Frankovich says. "It's not good."

But commissaries sell groceries to military families at wholesale cost, tacking on just a 5 percent surcharge. And that very well might save them in a situation like this, says Todd Arnold, who teaches marketing at Oklahoma State University.

"You're in a very good position when you have the best price in town. People will change their behaviors because it still benefits them," Arnold says.

The savings, he says, means those die-hard Monday shoppers will probably just shop another day of the week until this is all over.

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