WASHINGTON — Throughout the increase of coronavirus cases in our area, many – if not already – have fled to the stores to stock up on the essential items to last through the next month of quarantine.
However, grocery stores are having a hard time keeping up with the massive influx of customers as they work to keep their stores clean and their shelves stocked. It has caused local and federal officials to ask people not to panic buy.
D.C. Councilmember and chair of the Council’s Committee on Health, Vince Gray met with Tom Lofland, the President of Safeway’s Eastern Region Division to discuss the inventory at the two Safeway grocery stores located in Ward 7 during the coronavirus pandemic.
During the meeting, Gray and Lofland discussed the progress Safeway has made since Gray’s surprise visit to Safeway stores back in August 2017 that uncovered deficient inventory, poor customer service, and subpar sanitary conditions.
As a result of the recent conversation, Safeway has committed to ensuring that stores in Ward 7 will be sufficiently stocked.
“The commitment from Safeway to keep their shelves stocked should bring peace of mind to Ward 7 residents. This comes at a time of great uncertainty where far too many people have gone to stores across the region and have found them empty," Gray said. "I applaud Safeway for addressing the concerns and needs of residents on the East End of the District."
A number of stores are changing their hours and shifting their operations to both slow the spread of the virus and to restock on essential goods for customers. Here's how a few of your greater D.C. area grocery stores, including some in Virginia and Maryland, are changing things up:
Harris Teeter has started closing its stores at 9 p.m. until further notice. Harris Teeter is also installing shields that will help keep customers and employees safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
Harris Teeter is designating Monday and Thursday mornings from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. as senior shopping hours for shoppers aged 60 and over.
Learn more about what Harris Teeter is doing here.
Food Lion hasn't reported a change in their store hours, but they did make a statement about increasing the frequency of cleaning their stores as the coronavirus spreads.
"While we pride ourselves in having clean stores, we have increased the frequency of our cleaning procedures and added even more rigorous practices. Our associates are regularly disinfecting high-touch areas in our stores. We are working to ensure sanitizing wipes are available in stores and encourage you to use them as a precaution."
They are also encouraging their workers to stay home if they feel sick and have issued travel restrictions for their associates. Read their full statement here.
Walmart U.S. stores will adjust operating hours to 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Stores that open later than 7 a.m. will continue their regular starting hours. This will further help associates restock the shelves for customers while continuing to clean and sanitize the store. While the store hours change for customers, our associates will continue to have access to their regular scheduled shifts and full hours.
From March 24 through April 28, Walmart stores will host an hour-long senior shopping event every Tuesday for customers aged 60 and older. This will start one hour before the store opens. Our Pharmacies and Vision Centers will also be open during this time.
They've also enacted a policy that gives their employees more flexibility if they need sick leave, and have shared guidelines about company travel over the next few months.
You can read more on their response to the coronavirus outbreak here.
The company has adjusted its overall hours to 6:00 a.m. to 10 p.m. to enable its team members to spend more time sanitizing, unloading deliveries and stocking shelves. Its stores receive deliveries throughout the day, so the company's shelves will be replenished for shoppers at all hours. GIANT is also placing a limit of “two” on key categories throughout the store–including paper goods and disinfectant products–so everyone can have access to the items they need.
Learn more here.
ALDI hasn't changed their store hours, but they've notified their customers that they will see quantity limits placed on some of their select products.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, ALDI stores will open at 8:30 a.m. and reserve the first hour of business for vulnerable shoppers. This includes senior citizens, expectant mothers and those with underlying health concerns.
The company says it's focused on keeping high-demand products stocked, like water, pantry staples, premade meals, cleaning supplies and toilet paper.
Wegmans is adjusting their hours of operation temporarily so employees will have more time to clean their stores and restock products. In Virginia and North Carolina, stores are open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The company is also encouraging its employees to stay home if they're sick and to increase how often they clean the stores.
Whole Foods continues to evaluate the coronavirus outbreak, but they've modified some of its business practices like increasing cleaning at their stores and temporarily suspending food sampling and demos until further notice.
The stores are also removing open-access sample product testers from certain departments.
Employees increase sanitation on the food bars and customers can find more hand sanitizer stations inside the stores. Read Whole Foods' response here.
Whole Foods announced that beginning March 18, all of its stores in the U.S. and Canada begin opening doors to people who are 60 and older an hour before opening to the public.