Retailer roundup, managing COVID-19

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Retailer roundup, managing COVID-19

By Dan Ochwat - 03/24/2020

Grocery, drug, mass, convenience and more –  all retailers have been stepping up in big ways during the long COVID-19 crisis.

Key retailers have been deemed “critical” by the Department of Homeland and Security and are tasked with being fully operational during the pandemic. Here's a bulleted list of some of what retailers have been doing over the last few months to maintain safety in stores and build up communities.

The most recent events concern policies requiring shoppers to wear masks in-store.

7-Eleven

  • Hiring around 20,000 additional store employees corporately or through its franchise owners.
  • Added contactless delivery through its 7NOW app, and is waiving delivery fees through April 30.
  • Enhanced its standards and procedures for hygiene, handwashing, sanitation, food handling and preparation in stores.
  • Discontinued personal cups for beverages in foodservice; baked goods and condiments are coming pre-packaged.
  • Working with DoorDash to deliver essential items to homes.
  • Delivering alcohol through its 7NOW app.
  • Foodservice options are available in-store and through the 7NOW app as a take-and-bake option.

Albertsons

  • Partnered with 17 businesses in hospitality and industries where employees are being furloughed.
  • Hiring 30,000 more workers.
  • Offered appreciation pay to employees on the frontlines, a $2 an hour increase.
  • Placed Plexiglas at checkout to shield cashiers and consumers; enacted social distances of at leas 6 feet at checkout and stations like pharmacy/deli/bakery.
  • Committing $50 million toward hunger relief charities nationwide.

Aldi

  • Adjusted store hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with some stores instituting temporary closures during the day for restocking and cleaning.
  • Hiring more workers for the distribution centers and in stores.
  • Along with standard social distancing policies, it is limiting the number of shoppers per store.

Amazon

  • Hiring 100,000 employees for warehouses and delivery.
  • Donated $100 million to Feeding America.
  • Raising wages for hourly workers handling fulfillment and delivery.
  • Prioritizing essential items like household staples, sanitizers, medical supplies, baby formulas and not delivering nonessential items with Prime.
  • Setting aside $4 billion of its Q2 profits to go toward coronavirus protection efforts.

BJ's Wholesale Club

  • Donated $500,000 to local organizations to help feed and care for those in need.
  • Increased wages by $2 an hour, and managers and key personnel will receive a one-time bonus of $500-$1,000.
  • Instituted paid leave for those in emergency.

Brookshire's Grocery Company

  • Offering a 5% discount on store brand product for first responders.
  • Donated $1 million to local food banks.
  • Instituted social distancing measures such as floor decals and partitions at checkout.
  • Hired 1,700 employees and is offering bonus pay for associates and employees.
  • Bringing food on-site to employees.

Costco

  • A letter from the CEO Craig Jelinek outlined changes such as limited quantities on virus-related items.
  • Increased protocols in sanitizing shopping cart handles, shelves, front-end belts and registers.
  • Associates are practicing social distancing.
  • Limiting card members to two shoppers per store.
  • All shoppers over the age of 2 must wear a mask in stores.
  • Normal shopping hours have been put in place.
  • Shoppers are required to wear a mask.

CVS Health

  • Awarding bonuses, $150-$500 to pharmacists, health care professionals, store associates, managers and other site-based hourly employees.
  • Hiring 50,000 employees full- and part-time workers.
  • Paid leave for employees with confirmed cases of COVID-19 or need for quarantine, as well as elder and child care for employees.
  • Opened a COVID-19 testing site in the parking lot of a store in Massachusetts.

Dollar General

  • Adding 50,000 workers by the end of April.
  • Senior store hour at the start of each day and closing one hour early.
  • Adding $25 million in May toward bonuses for its frontline workers, adding to a total of $60 million being paid.

Dollar Tree

  • Hiring 25,000 associates inside stores and distribution centers, both full- and part-time positions.
  • Modified hours at all Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores, closing earlier at 8 p.m.

Fresh Thyme

  • Limiting the number of shoppers per family per trip and monitoring overall traffic to support social distancing.
  • Conducting daily health screenings and temperature checks of team members.
  • Installing protective Plexiglass shields at all check lanes.
  • Providing gloves now, and providing masks as they become available for team members to wear while working.
  • Adding signage and broadcast announcements inside the store educating customers about proper social distancing.
  • Reduced shopping hours to support deeper cleaning overnight and re-stocking efficiency.
  • Dedicated shopping hours for senior citizens, customers with chronic health conditions and essential service workers.
  • Decals on the floor 6 feet apart in areas where customers may congregate.
  • Temporarily suspending Wednesday Double Ad Day beginning April 1 to both improve in-stock conditions and limit traffic.

The Giant Company

  • Adjusted store hours to be from 6 a.m.-10 p.m., and 24-hour locations remain open 24 hours.
  • Senior and high-risk consumers hour at the start of each day.
  • Social distancing action in stores with Plexiglas at checkout and markings for distance in lines.
  • Associates are wearing masks and gloves.
  • Donated $250,000 to a Pennsylvania food bank.
  • Hiring 3,ooo more employees on top of the 4,000 temporary workers it already has hired.

H-E-B

  • Donated $3 million to local organizations that serve seniors and low-income families.
  • Adjusted store hours from 8 a.m.-8 p.m., but as of late April has increased store hours.
  • Delivery to seniors.
  • Teamed with delivery service Favor.
  • Social distancing in stores, including partitions between consumers and cashiers, decals on the floor for proper distancing, limiting entrance to stores to one entrance and sanitized shopping cart handles.
  • Free next day curbside pickup is being offered to encourage more social distancing.
  • Serving packaged, prepared food from local restaurants.
  • Donating store brand Meal Simple meals to healthcare workers.

The Home Depot

  • Closing stores at 6 p.m. for cleaning and restocking.
  • Limiting store traffic and canceling spring promotions to not drive traffic.
  • Social distancing markers throughout the stores.
  • Temperature checks of store associates before they start work.
  • Increasing paid time off for all of its workers, which can be used at any time by end of the year.
  • No longer selling N-95 masks and sending them directly to healthcare workers.
  • Limiting in-home installations to only completing repairs.

Hy-Vee

  • Hiring temporary, part-time hourly employees in all of its stores, as well as in distribution centers in Chariton, Iowa, and Cherokee, Iowa.
  • Has added signage that directs shoppers to shop an aisle only going one way, eliminating the close proximity of shoppers down the aisle.
  • Launched a campaign to raise $1 million to help local food banks restock shelves; the retailer will match $1 donations.
  • Awarding employees a 10% bonus onto their hourly hours worked through April 12.
  • Protective windows installed at checkouts; first to deploy barriers in front and behind the checker. 
  • Reusable bags have been banned temporarily and in-store returns temporarily suspended.
  • Offering full-service pumping at fuel stations.
  • Adjusted store hours from 8 a.m.-8 p.m., and dedicating one hour to shoppers considered high-risk.
  • Dedicated an hour on Thursdays to its online shopping service with free delivery from DoorDash to assist elderly and high-risk shoppers.

Kroger

  • Committed $3 million to assist communities in need of food through its Zero Hunger I Zero Waste Foundation.
  • Enacted a one-time $300 bonus to all frontline, hourly employees and $150 to all part-time associates.
  • Expanded its paid sick leave for coronavirus-related emergency leaves.
  • Hiring workers at all stores and distribution centers, including for chains it owns like Fred Meyer.
  • Stores are installing Plexiglas at checkout.
  • Testing one-way shopping down aisles.
  • Limiting the amount of store traffic.
  • Launched a kit of creative assets and guidelines to follow that other retailers and businesses can leverage to help manage safe conditions in their stores, businesses.
  • Requiring all store associates to wear masks.
  • Increased store hours in certain regions.
  • Donating 200,000 gallons of milk to Feeding America, saving milk that dairy farmers would need to waste.
  • Ended hero pay, the $2 an hour wage increase May 17.
  • Bonus pay added in May, $400 to full-time associates and $200 to part-time associates.
  • Hiring 100,000 more workers.
  • Shoppers are required to wear a mask.

Lidl U.S.

  • Announced it will hire 1,000 temporary employees for distribution and in-store jobs. The jobs will run for two months.
  • Under CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the new staffers without health insurance are immediately eligible for medical benefits covering testing and treatment related to COVID-19 at no cost.
  • Using its sampling food truck in Virginia area to delver essential foods and supplies to retirement homes.

Lowe's

  • Stores will close Easter Sunday to relieve staff.
  • $2 an hour wage increase for all full-time, part-time and seasonal employees in stores or distribution centers through April. 
  • Stores close at 7 p.m.
  • All N-95 medical masks will not be sold and instead donated to medical organizations.
  • Social distancing measures include marked floor signage and the removal of aisle displays.
  • Plexiglas shields at checkout and customer service.
  • Increased third-party cleaning crews.
  • Shipped an additional 10,000 truckloads of essential products.

Meijer

  • Special shopping hours for those in the community that are higher risk to the virus, receiving a closed hour to shop from 7 a.m.-8 a.m., Mondays and Wednesdays.
  • Limiting how many shoppers enter stores.
  • Additional special hour of shopping for first responders.
  • Adjusted store hours of 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
  • Suspended its deli salad and meat counter service, selling prepared and packaged foods in refrigerated cases instead.
  • Donated more than $2 million to 400 Simply Give food pantry partners in the midwest.
  • Added Plexiglas shields at checkout and pharmacy.
  • Temporarily suspended weekly sales ad to limit traffic in stores.
  • Completing temperature checks of store associates. 
  • Donated 750,000 masks to healthcare workers regionally.
  • Extended shopping hours to midnight, added one extra hour to senior shopping hour.

Natural Grocers

  • Stores closing early at 8:05 p.m., with a special shopping hour for seniors, pregnant or high-risk shoppers on Sunday and Wednesday.
  • Front entrance staffed with a worker to clean all carts and ensure social distancing.
  • Limited shopper traffic.
  • Hired 700 additional employees.
  • Staff wear masks and disposable gloves.
  • Medical insurance around COVID-19 testing.
  • $2 an hour wage increase ($1 an hour is permanent while another $1 an hour goes through May 1).
  • Plexiglas shields up at cashiers and key areas.

Publix

  • Hiring thousands by the end of March to fill spots in stores and distribution.
  • Senior shopping hour of 7 a.m.-8 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, and store hours adjusted to 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • First responder shopping hour 7 a.m.-8 a.m., Fridays and 8 p.m.-9 p.m., Thursdays.
  • Offering rent relief for small business tenants in shopping centers.
  • Introduced contactless mobile payment.
  • Buying milk and produce from farmers hit hard during the pandemic to donate to Feeding America, as opposed to waste the fresh goods.
  • Requiring store associates to wear a face mask.
  • As of mid-May, store hours back to normal operating hours and removed the special shopping hour for seniors, at-risk shoppers and first responders.

Rite Aid

  • Offering "Hero Pay" — a $2-per-hour increase in hourly workers' wages at stores, Rediclinic locations and distribution centers effective March 15 through at least May 2.
  • Increasing employee discount to 35% through at least April. 
  • Offering "Hero Bonus" to DC and store managers, as well as pharmacists
  • Offering "Pandemic Pay," which ensures employees are compensated "fairly" if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 or forced to quarantine themselves due to exposure to the illness. 

Schnucks

  • Handed out $605.000, including $500,000 to the St. Louis COVD-19 Regional Response Fund and the rest to local charities in other states where its stores are.

  • Has hired 500 new workers who might have been furloughed or let go and looking to hire more.

  • Paying a $500 bonus to full-time workers and $250 to part-time workers and organizing paid leave if workers ill with coronavirus.

  • Plexiglas supporters are being placed at service counters and checkout.

  • Working with local restaurants hurting during this time to supply catered lunches to the stores for employees.

Stop & Shop

  • Adding at least 5,000 associates for part-time work in stores, distribution centers and delivery operations across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
  • Donated $1 million to local food banks.
  • 10% pay increase for frontline workers through May.
  • Strict customer capacity limits.
  • Clear plastic barriers at all registers; added space between check outs.
  •  Masks and gloves for all associates; robust cleaning and sanitizing procedures; and disinfecting wipes near store entrances so customers can wipe down carriages, hand baskets and ScanIt! devices.

Target

  • Hourly wage increase by $2 an hour to associates (extended to July 4) and paying out bonuses to hourly store team leads in a range of $250-$1,500, and expanded benefits for associates such as backup care during school closings and paid sick leave.
  • Expected to donate $10 million through its Target Foundation to local, national and global organizations responding to the pandemic.
  • Reduced hours to close by 9 p.m., reserved first hour of shopping for vulnerable guests on Wednesday.
  • Monitoring and limiting crowds in stores if traffic too high.

Tops Friendly Markets

  • Plexiglas shields will be added to as many front-end registers that it can across its 162 stores. Where no shields present, face shields will be worn.
  • Social distancing protocols have been put in place at checkout and associates will be wearing gloves.
  • Also one associate is assigned to cleaning at each store, sanitizing
    registers, check stands, conveyor belts, customer service desks, point of sale devices and other frequently touched surfaces.

Trader Joe’s

  • Adjusted store hours from 9 a.m.-7 p.m., as well as special assistance for seniors during the 9 a.m.-10 a.m. hour everyday.
  • Paid-for sick time for all crew.
  • Beverage and food sampling has been suspended in stores.
  • Closing Easter Sunday to give employees a break.
  • Limiting some stores to 35 shoppers at a time.
  • The retailer said it will not offer curbside pickup or delivery.

Wakern Food

  • A $2 an hour increase in pay to retail store associates across its banners.
  • Hiring across its warehouses and stores.
  • Enhanced sick leave and leave benefits.

Walgreens

  • Adding 9,500 full- and part-time jobs, such as customer service associates, pharmacy technicians and shift leads.
  • Bonus pay of $300 for full-time and $150 for part-time hourly workers in the stores and distribution.
  • Social distancing lines that allow 6 feet of space between shoppers.
  • Offering associates a free mobile app Sanvello to provide peer support and clinically validated coping tools to help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Expanded its drive-thru window service to include expanded items like virus-related products, disinfectant wipes and food.
  • Delivery with Postmates will be enhanced to reach reach 7,000 stores nationwide.
  • Employees receive face covers and temperature checks are being done on associates before they work.
  • Drive-thru COVID-19 testing expanded to 15 sites in seven states.
  • Standard operating hours are in place for most stores.

Walmart

  • Donated $25 million spread out to various food banks, local communities and organizations fighting the spread of the virus.
  • Requiring shoppers to wear face masks.
  • Limiting traffic in stores.
  • Began requiring face coverings at Walmart and Sam's Club stores in late July
  • Looking to hire 150,000 employees across its supply chain and has now upped that number considerably.
  • Requesting shoppers wear face covers when entering.
  • Paying a $300 bonus for full-time associates and a $150 bonus for part-time associates that would total more than $365 million.
  • In mid-May, paid a second bonus to associates.
  • Working with federal, state and local officials to open parking lots for COVID-19 testing.
  • Adjusted store hours from 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m., with special shopping hours for vulnerable shoppers.
  • Added special pick up hour for seniors, at-risk shoppers and first responders.
  • Auto Care Centers were closed to assist associates with stocking and cleaning stores.
  • Touting its contactless pay features through its mobile payment system and updated it so no longer need to touch a touchscreen to activate it.
  • Hiring up to 50,000 more associates.
  • Requiring associates to wear a face mask in-store.
  • Rolling out contactless, express delivery, getting goods to shoppers in 2 hours or less.

Whole Foods

  • New store hours of 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., with a senior at the start of each day.
  • $2 an hour wage increase for all workers.
  • Hot bars, salad bars, soup bars, restaurants, taprooms and cafes will be temporarily closed.
  • Will make disposable masks available to shoppers to wear in stores.