Retailers adjust store hours, hire staff around COVID-19

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Retailers adjust store hours, hire staff around COVID-19

By Dan Ochwat - 03/17/2020

Retailers are hiring additional staff and reducing store hours to help with restocking shelves and to thoroughly clean stores during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Aldi is hiring for its stores and warehouses in the United States, and is reducing hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., as well as instituting temporary closures during the day, to concentrate on stocking shelves and cleaning stores. Natural Grocers announced both that it would be closing stores earlier so crews could restock and sanitize stores, and the retailer was hiring temporary stockers and cleaners.

Amazon announced it would be hiring 100,000 more employees to work in the fulfillment center and deliver purchases in the U.S. because of the large demand that e-commerce is seeing during the pandemic. 

Kroger put out a call online and through emails for positions inside stores, distribution centers and manufacturing plants.

On Sunday, Rodney McMullen, chief executive officer with Kroger, confirmed in a statement that two workers, one at a King Soopers store in Colorado and another at a Fred Meyer in Washington, tested positive for COVID-19. Both associates are being treated and are recovering, and the stores have remained open.

Kroger activated its Emergency Leave Guidelines policy, which provides paid time off for up to two weeks for those who test positive or are placed under mandatory quarantine. After that, if associates need more time off, the benefits of short-term disability will apply.

Inside a Tops Friendly Markets store.

An associate out of the corporate headquarters with Tops Friendly Market also tested positive for COVID-19 and is under self quarantine. The associate did not have any contact with a Tops store and had limited contact with staff at the headquarters, according to the retailer.

The market on the East Coast is adjusting hours to manage restocks and to sanitize stores.

Target announced stores will close by 9 p.m., local time, and it will reserve the first hour of every Wednesday for "vulnerable shoppers," including elderly and shoppers with underlying health concerns.

"For weeks, we've been responding to the impact of the coronavirus by taking care of our team, rigorously cleaning our stores and helping our guests find the food, medicine and other essentials they need for themselves and their families," said Brian Cornell, chairman and chief executive officer of Target. "As our team continues to adapt to the country's fast-changing needs, we're announcing plans to reduce our store hours and offer dedicated shopping hours for vulnerable guests. We'll also maintain limits on select products and would ask guests to purchase only what they need so there's enough supply to accommodate this increased demand."

Publix Super Markets posted on Twitter that all of its stores will now close at 8 p.m., "to better serve our customers, give our store teams time to conduct additional preventive sanitation and restock product on our shelves."

As for Walmart, 24-hour locations will be reduced to a schedule of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., with other Walmart stores seeing earlier closes or later opens, too. H-E-B, Giant Eagle and more retailers are also following this trend.

Read more about retailer changes in hours at sister publication Progressive Grocer, as well as more on Kroger’s response to the pandemic.