Kroger same-store sales skyrocketed 30% in March, driven by mid-month consumer stockpiling stemming from the spread of the coronavirus.
While the sharp spike in consumer demand tapered during the month, sales were higher than normal during the last week of the month as shoppers adjusted to new recreational and work restrictions.
Although the grocer didn’t want to speculate on a "new normal" in food consumption or future sales impacts, it does anticipate volatility in sales throughout the year. As a result, the company said it would delay certain cost-saving initiatives in order to address COVID-19.
In addition to enhancing sanitation practices and installing protective measures like Plexiglas partitions and floor decals promoting physical distancing, Kroger is also growing its online pickup and delivery services, as well as its Kroger Pay contactless payment solution.
It’s also making investments into its supply chain to expand capacity where possible.
Kroger, like several other grocery retailers, is raising wages, beefing up its benefits offerings, and embarking on a hiring spree for new associates. All hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center associates will receive a “Hero Bonus” in the form of a $2 per hour raise, applied to hours worked March 29 through April 18.
This is in addition to the one-time bonus paying out on April 3.
“Recently, we announced an appreciation bonus for our hourly frontline associates. This gesture was to thank our associates for everything they have done during the past few weeks," said Tim Massa, Kroger's senior vice president and chief people officer. "However, we recognize that this crisis is far from over, and after reflecting on associate feedback and working together with our union partners, we want to further acknowledge our terrific team for their hard work to date as well as the work yet to come."
The company counted about 435,000 full- and part-time employees as of Feb. 1 and has hired over 32,700 new associates in the last two weeks.