"If you see increases in sales and productivity, workers should get that benefit," said Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents tens of thousands of grocery store workers. "Right now, the owners of these companies are the only ones benefiting from it."
Labor experts and Wall Street analysts also predict that the job of getting items off the shelf and getting them to a customer's cars can be easily done by machines, meaning the job boom may be fleeting.
This work is already highly automated. Roadside employees at Walmart use a handheld device that indicates the order in which to select each item for maximum efficiency.
"They can feel like robots sometimes," said Mr Perrone.
A recent report from the Labor Center at the University of California at Berkeley and the nonprofit Working Partnerships USA predicted that workers would come under new pressure as businesses began to resemble Amazon's warehouses, noting that the Warehouse manager jobs seem to be more radically changing than any of the other major job categories in retail. "
"In the warehouse, they are also more likely to receive 'warnings' to replenish inventory," the report said. "As with cashiers, this could make inventory levels of inventory more diverse and interesting, but when combined with new methods of tracking work, it could also result in jobs that are monitored, closely watched, accelerated and stressed."
Jean-André Rougeot, managing director of Sephora Americas, said he saw more employees pushing pick-up carts than buyers on a recent visit to Walmart. He anticipates people will return to Sephora's stores to touch and sample the beauty products, but acknowledged that the pandemic would change the way people shop and receive goods.