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Visits by loyal Stop & Shop customers decline 75 percent during strike

Some shelves at a Stop & Shop in Malden were empty on Friday. –Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

In the first few days of the Stop & Shop strike, visits to the grocery chain by regular customers dropped by a whopping 75 percent compared with the previous weekend, according to an analysis of mobile device data by Skyhook, a location technology and intelligence company based in Boston.

Many loyal customers — those who typically visit Stop & Shop once a week — did not go grocery shopping at all that first weekend, the analysis found, with visits to all area grocery stores decreasing by almost half, likely a result of shoppers holding out in case the strike ended quickly.

The strike, which involves 31,000 workers at 240 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, began abruptly last Thursday afternoon when workers got the call from the United Food & Commercial Workers union to walk off the job. The workers — three-quarters of whom are part time, according to the union — have been picketing ever since, protesting proposed increases in health care costs, reductions in pension contributions for many nonvested part-time workers and new hires, and changes to Sunday and holiday overtime pay for current and new part-time employees.