WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Amber Powers has watched the public’s reaction to fears about coronavirus from behind the deli counter at a Family Fare store in metro Grand Rapids.
“It’s been like Black Friday shopping, just in a grocery store,” Powers, a deli clerk, said.
That customer volume is causing SpartanNash and Meijer to lock the doors overnight to restock.
Citing “unprecedented times,” West Michigan-based Meijer on Thursday announced it will close all of its stores overnight beginning Friday. It is typically open 24/7 except for Christmas, but moving forward, it will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The grocery store giant says it needs the overnight hours to deep clean and restock.
Walmart already limited hours for overnight cleaning and restocking.
SpartanNash, which owns several grocery store chains, including Family Fare and D&W in West Michigan, is making similar moves. Most SpartanNash stores are now closed between midnight and 6 a.m. The Family Fare store on the Metro Hospital Campus in Wyoming, near Grand Rapids, will be the only one to remain open 24 Hours.
“For the most part, we are getting the products in and if it doesn’t come in on the first truck, it will be there on the next truck,” said Yvonne Trupiano, SpartanNash’s chief human resources officer.
That’s a problem for shoppers who need to avoid large crowds. So along with the change in hours so crews can restock, stores have set aside special hours for seniors and others with health conditions that put them at a higher risk for serious complications linked to coronavirus.
Those at-risk customers will be able to shop from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at SpartanNash stores. At Meijer stores, at-risk hours are from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Essential service workers, including medical workers, first responders and law enforcement, and employees will get dedicated store time at Meijer from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.
SpartanNash has also redoubled efforts to make sure stores and products are clean to calm fears over food safety. Many deli items are now prepackaged. It is also trying to calm fears that have emptied the shelves of items, like toilet paper.
“It’s unprecedented times and there’s no playbook for this, so the initial response of ‘go stock up and hunker down,’ people may be overreacted slightly in terms of stocking up for six months,” Trupiano said. “Don’t panic. We will have food tomorrow. We will have supplies and they’re not going away.”
And there’s another challenge at SpartanNash: Recruiting people to do the work. SpartanNash says sales have doubled and in some cases tripled at its stores, so much so that it has had to put out the help wanted sign.
“We need to hire additional hands for stocking shelves, extra cleaning and the like,” Trupiano said.
The company is looking to hire additional hands for stocking shelves, extra cleaning and other positions. The lowest wage is $10 per hour. You can find more information on its website.