DES MOINES, Iowa — Hy-Vee’s decision to cut 500 jobs from its corporate headquarters and move them to its grocery stores could be an indicator for the economy as a whole.

Drake University business and strategy professor Matthew Mitchell said grocery and retail stores are often the first businesses to adapt when an economy is in danger of a downturn, due to the slim profit margins within those fields. He believes Hy-Vee’s adjustments reflect how Iowans are spending–or not spending–their money.

“We go to the stores and we’re trying to stretch our dollars a little bit farther,” Mitchell said. “We don’t buy the higher margin items, and instead are buying lower-margin items, and that makes it tough for retailers.”

Hy-Vee cited an eleven-percent inflation rate in a full-page ad distributed to Iowa newspapers Wednesday as a major reason for their corporate cuts. While Mitchell does not believe the country is headed into a recession yet, he said the inflation rates are a reason to stay cautious.

“I think it’s going to continue to be very difficult for retailers to stay successful and profitable,” Mitchell said. “They’re going to have to make some significant decisions.”