WASHINGTON — In recent days, people have raced to their local grocery stores looking to stock up on supplies as the number of coronavirus cases rises around the country.
With employers instructing their staff to work from home and schools closing for extended periods of time, it's no wonder people want to make sure their homes are filled to the brim with food and supplies.
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.
A number of stores are changing their hours and shifting their operations for that very reason. Here is how 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.
Fresh Market isn't modifying their store hours, but they are increasing sanitation in their stores and temporarily suspending self-sampling stations. You can read their statement here.
Safeway says it is taking a few steps to help protect is customers and keep its employees safe, including running clean stores and pharmacies, in-stock items, taking care of our team, and planning for local needs of the communities it serves. Its stores are also performing deliveries.
It is also designating two hours every Tuesday and Thursday morning for vulnerable shoppers, including senior citizens, pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems. This includes those who have been advised to avoid leaving home as much as possible."
While Giant won't be changing its store hours, it is asking its customers to use reusable bags and to practice good hygiene at its store. Giant also said that it will continue to offer the same low prices that it always had tried to keep.
As the global effect of coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve, Costco says its firmly committed to the health and safety of its members and employees, and serving the communities that its stores are in. It is closely monitoring the changing situation, and complying with public health guidance.
Costco has increased its protocols in sanitizing surfaces, including shopping cart handles, merchandise shelves, front-end belts and registers. Limits have been implemented on certain items to help ensure more members are able to access the merchandise they want and need. Its buyers and suppliers are working to ensure in-demand merchandise, as well as everyday favorites, are available in our warehouses.
Tuesdays and Thursdays, Costco members 60 and older can shop from 8 to 9 a.m. at all locations except Business Centers.
Sam's Club adjusts its hours to help keep customers safe, but also to allow for cleaning at its stores. Starting on Tuesday, it has shifted all club opening hours to 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday-Saturday.
"This is to ensure our associates have ample time to restock, clean and sanitize each club, and provide you the best possible experience," the club said in its statement.
Beginning March 16 and until further notice, all Trader Joe’s stores are open from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. to support crew members in taking care of one another and their customers, store officials say.
Every day between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., crew members will maintain an additional line outside the front door for our senior customers. This will ensure that those customers in need will have an expedited entrance to the store to help make their experience a more positive one.
"As the coronavirus COVID-19 affects our communities, our work as your neighborhood grocery store continues. We are vigilant; heeding all federal, state and local health advisories; and where it makes sense, adjusting efforts to safeguard the health and safety of our Crew Members and customers," the company said in its statement.
Employees at some Trader Joe's have tested positive for the coronavirus and stores have been closed for cleaning at some locations across the country, which the company confirmed in this statement.
The company said it's committed to helping the families and communities it serves in good times and bad. Target has already taken a number of steps in support of its team and guests.
The company has extended benefits to help team members take care of themselves and their families, conducting even more rigorous cleaning procedures in all of its facilities and providing additional support for drive up and order pickup services from stores, and said it continues to do all it can to help navigate these uncertain times.
Target also announced starting March 18, "Target will reserve the first hour of shopping each Wednesday at stores nationwide for vulnerable guests, including elderly and those with underlying health concerns. The retailer is encouraging other guests to plan their shopping trips around this timeframe."