(BEDFORD) – Local grocers have seen an uptick in business amid concerns regarding the coronavirus over the weekend.
At first, items being purchased included cleaning supplies and toilet paper.
Customers have now started purchasing items like bread, milk, and eggs that typically sell out during a threat of bad weather. On top of that, other products such as produce and non-perishable canned goods have also been leaving the shelves.
“We started getting busy Thursday evening; however by the time Friday afternoon arrived our store was extremely busy,” stated a Jay-C Store employee who did not wish to be identified.
Some items have been restricted to a limited number per customer at the Jay-C Plus Store on 16th Street in Bedford and Walmart on John Williams Boulevard.
“I came from Brownstown to get stocked up and was not expecting this large of a crowd,” said Emily Robinson, of Brownstown. “People were lined up several isles deep trying to purchase groceries at the Jay-C Plus Store in Bedford.”
Casey Staheli of Walmart Stores in Bentonville, Ark. provided WBIW with the following response:
As the coronavirus situation continues to evolve, we know it is top of mind for our customers. We see it in the items people are buying and hear it in the conversations we’re having in our stores. So we believe it’s important to share the steps we are taking to keep our people safe and our facilities clean.
We are monitoring this situation daily, and, as we do with any unusual event, we will watch what’s happening locally and adjust business operations and policies as needed. We are in close communication with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as other health organizations, and are following their guidelines as well as the advice of our own Chief Medical Officer.
First and foremost, we are taking preventive measures to keep our stores clean and maintain a healthy environment. Stores are cleaned daily, which includes using sanitizing solutions in high-touch, high-traffic areas. We have increased associates focus on cleaning and have dedicated an associate to maintain key areas throughout the day. We’ve seen increased foot traffic, so we’re sending additional cleaning supplies for use in places like the registers and on shopping carts.
Looking forward, we are pursuing easier ways to sanitize shopping carts. We also have plans in place for third-party sanitization should it be needed for a store impacted by the virus. And we are evaluating whether to modify store hours at some 24-hour facilities to allow for additional cleaning.
Second, we will work to keep our stores stocked and prices fair. As one would expect, paper products, cleaning supplies, and other items are in high demand as customers prepare for the possible impact of COVID-19. We are working to replenish those items quickly, including diverting products to areas of the country where they are needed most and routing deliveries directly to stores. We have also authorized our store managers to manage their inventory, including the discretion to limit sales quantities on items that are in unusually high demand. Online, we are taking a firm stance related to the potential for price gouging by third-party sellers. Violations of our seller pricing policy and seller prohibited items policy will not be tolerated and will be resolved quickly.
Third, as the largest employer in the country, we take the health of our associates seriously. As we’ve said before, we want any associate who is not feeling well to stay home. We shared with our associates details of a new policy that gives them additional flexibility to stay home if they are not feeling well and pay options and support if they are affected by the virus. Out of an abundance of caution, we have also shared additional guidelines pertaining to company travel over the next couple of months.
Finally, we want to remind our customers there are many great ways to shop at Walmart, including pickup and Walmart.com. Many of you are already taking advantage of these services. If you’re not, this could be a good time to try online delivery or our store pickup options or to use the Walmart Pay feature of our app when paying at the register.
1340 AM WBIW also reached out to Erin Grant, Media Relations of Kroger Company, Louisville, Ky. Division, but did not receive a response at the time of this story.
Some stores have now started closing at midnight and reopening at 6 a.m. to give the employees the time to get supplies back on the shelves.
Walmart posted the following statement:
To better support our associates and serve our customers, we will adjust our operating hours beginning Sunday, March 15. Walmart stores and Neighborhood Markets will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. until further notice. This will help ensure associates are able to stock the products our customers are looking for and to perform cleaning and sanitizing. Stores currently operating under more reduced hours (for example they regularly close at 10 p.m. or open at 7 a.m.) will keep their current hours of operation.
Several customers have started taking advantage of the pick-up and click it options that many grocers now offer.