What Grocery Retailers are Doing to Protect Shoppers and Workers in Stores Amid Coronavirus Concerns

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What Grocery Retailers are Doing to Protect Shoppers and Workers in Stores Amid Coronavirus Concerns

By Jamie Grill-Goodman - 03/25/2020
A Bloomfield, NJ, Shoprite store is running a campaign on social media to tell its customers to “mind the blue square,” after taping out boxes to keep shoppers apart at checkout stands.

There is no playbook for this. Food retailers are having to think fast to come up with protective measures for both their staff and their customers facing concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19). From the crafty to the technical, RIS is seeing grocers rise to the challenge.

Many retailers are reducing opening hours and offering specific shopping hours for seniors and vulnerable shoppers. Going one step further, Meijer stores are also providing dedicated shopping times for essential service workers and Meijer employees on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7-8 a.m. local time.

Once inside the store, several retailers are stepping up to help customers follow social distancing guidelines in stores. Albertsons Companies has begun implementing social distancing protocols across all of its stores in order to follow guidance from the CDC to prevent customers from being within six feet of any other person for more than 10 minutes. The grocer is installing designated waiting points through floor markers positioned throughout the store, especially at check stands and stations where people most often congregate, like the service deli, bakeries and pharmacy areas. Customers

 will also be asked to wait until the customer in front of them has finished collecting their groceries before unloading their groceries at the check stand. 

"We have seen our customers begin to implement social distancing on their own with our 'two carts apart' reminders as they shop our stores, so we think our floor markers will increase awareness," said Vivek Sankaran, president & CEO. "We know that with our customers' help, along with other safety measures have implemented in our stores, we can create safer environments and help our communities contain the spread of this contagious disease."

The company also is installing Plexiglas “sneeze guards” in its checkout lanes as a protective barrier between customers and associates.

Walmart also just announced it started installing Plexiglass barriers at its pharmacy lanes in both Walmart and Sam’s Club stores and will install these guards at the regular Walmart registers over the next two-three weeks. To help with social distancing, over the coming days and weeks Walmart is installing floor decals in stores at both the entrances and in checkout lanes, making it easier for customers to judge the proper social distance from each other. Walmart stores will also soon start using the Hart brand two gallon sprayer kits it currently sells in stores to sanitize shopping carts entirely. For stores that don’t have this sprayer, the retailer plans to start shipping them out this week.