Older adults and people with chronic medical conditions are at a higher risk of getting very sick from the coronavirus, leading some grocers to encourage specific shopping hours for these populations.
Starting March 17, Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based Dollar General is asking that the first hour of operations each day be dedicated solely for senior customers, so they can avoid most of the crowds.
“In keeping with our mission and our ongoing commitment to serve our communities, we are dedicating the first hour of each day to seniors," said Todd Vasos, Dollar General's CEO. "We appreciate our customers’ understanding of our decision and request they visit our stores later in the morning to allow at-risk populations the ability to purchase the items they need at affordable prices."
Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop is opening its stores earlier — from 6 to 7:30 a.m. — every day of the week beginning March 19 for customers over the age of 60. The Ahold Delhaize USA banner, which is No. 4 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States, assured customers that it'll continue stocking the shelves throughout the day and also encouraged the use of its new "contact-free" delivery options, where bags are left at the doorstep.
Some other U.S. grocers making changes for vulnerable populations as COVID-19 spreads include the following:
- Target has reserved the first hour of shopping each Wednesday at stores nationwide for vulnerable guests – including elderly and those with underlying health concerns. The retailer is encouraging other guests to plan their shopping trips around this time.
- Anaheim, Calif.-based Northgate González Market is instituting a special hour from 7 to 8 a.m. for people age 65 or older and those with disabilities.
- Los Angeles-based Vallarta Supermarkets is welcoming those 65 and older, pregnant women and those with disabilities from 7 to 8 a.m. beginning March 18.
- Houston's Food Town stores will let those 65 and older with a state ID or Texas driver's license in from 7 to 8 a.m.
- In Arizona, Chandler-based Bashas', along with its Food City and AJ's banners, will open from 5 to 6 a.m. on Wednesdays for anyone age 65 or older with a valid ID. If there's a need for a caretaker, one is welcome, but will not be allowed to shop for themselves.
- Minnesota-based Cub Foods invites the community to join them in reserving the first hour of each day from 6 to 7 a.m. to allow elderly and other high-risk populations, along with healthcare workers and first responders, time to shop.
Many grocers are also reducing their general store hours to provide more time to restock and deep clean locations. This has led retailers such as Lakewood, Colo.-based Natural Grocers to advertise for more workers to perform such tasks.