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Safety Advice If You Must Visit the Grocery Store

With communities across the country virtually shut down, there is still one place nearly everyone needs to visit at some point: the grocery store. Experts say deliveries are safer, but sometimes it can be hard to get one scheduled right away. So if you must go to the store, what’s the best way to navigate the aisles and crowds? Information and guidance about the virus is changing quickly, so we asked the experts.

Should grocery stores go dark?

Mike Houston tried plexiglass barriers. He tried limiting the number of people coming into his store and reminding shoppers to maintain a six-foot distance from one another as well as employees. He ripped out all the endcaps and displays inside the Takoma Park Silver Spring Co-op in Maryland, where he works as general manager, in order to open up more space. But the 4,500-square-foot store, which was ringing up more than 900 customers a day beginning in late February, still did not feel like a safe environment. So a week and a half ago, Houston and his management team decided to do what was once unthinkable. They closed the store.

Grocery and restaurant brands forge partnerships amid widespread foodservice layoffs

Even before the novel coronavirus became a worldwide pandemic, one of the first industries to feel the panic was the grocery sector. From Costco to Kroger, panicked shoppers flooded grocery aisles in early March to load up on everything from toilet paper to eggs. Grocery workers have been working the frontlines, keeping shelves stocked 24/7 ever since. For restaurant employees, it’s been a much starker contrast. As the spread of the highly contagious virus worked its way across the United States, jurisdictions from coast-to-coast began ordering residents to shelter at home. With dine-in operations coming to an immediate halt in mid-March, thousands of servers, managers and cooks were furloughed. The full-service industry has been among the hardest hit.

Are Grocery Employees Emergency Workers?

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, three states have classified grocery workers as members of the essential workforce. As such, supermarket employees in Minnesota, Michigan and Vermont will have access to child care in a similar way to health care workers.

How Coronavirus May Affect Grocery Shopping Habits

With fears about the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus on the rise as various U.S. states reveal their first confirmed cases, consumers may seek to limit their exposure to infection by making use of grocers’ existing ecommerce programs. This may present certain challenges to food retailers, however, as they struggle to keep pace with an uptick in online orders. “As evidenced by both public concern and stock market performance, the spread of coronavirus is one of the most serious and challenging developments that retailers have had to cope with in a very long time,” affirmed Kelly Lynch, retail solutions manager at ActiveViam, a retail pricing platform provider with offices in London, Paris, New York, Singapore and Hong Kong. “To successfully navigate this outbreak, retailers need to think about how they can best restore consumer confidence and meet changing consumer buying patterns as the virus potentially spreads. This includes making sure that their online infrastructure is strong enough to cope with an influx of online orders in affected areas, making delivery strategy changes, and just simply providing customers with clear, concise information about any changes that may impact the buying experience. This type of dependable approach will provide a little additional peace of mind for shoppers, while retailers consider any overarching changes that need to be made.”
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