Grocers Must Assert Leadership During Crisis

Jim Dudlicek
Editorial Director
Jim Dudlicek profile picture
Progressive Grocer HEB helping

We know our readers have been unusually busy in recent days, as folks fearing quarantine due to COVID-19 cleared supermarket shelves of essentials.

In the time since these initial salvos, retailers have restocked and regrouped as the crisis continues to unfold. Limits on items like sanitizers and toilet paper, and adjustments to operating hours, to allow associates to properly cleanse and refresh their stores, should restore a sense of normalcy as the public adjusts to its new temporary normal, however long that ultimately may be.

Time and time again, grocers have proven themselves to be essential to life during a crisis, the epitome of community partner and grace under pressure. Whether storms, floods, fires or pandemics, grocery retailers always step up for people in need.

Retailers are well equipped for crisis leadership. The federal government is talking with key players about setting up COVID-19 testing sites in parking lots at strategic store locations. Additionally, the government is lifting truck-driving limits to expedite the supply chain.

This past weekend, Illinois, Ohio and other states ordered all dine-in restaurants closed until at least the end of March to prevent the virus from spreading. Additionally, crisis-shaken consumers are saying they feel safer eating food from grocery stores than restaurants, a significant shift since spending on food consumed away from home recently passed food eaten at home. 

Grocers can serve their communities in their hour of need by doing what they do best: helping consumers feed their families.

Recipe ideas. Cooking guidance. Strategic cross-merchandising. Bundle deals. Meal kits. Grab and go. Heat and eat. Those with in-store restaurants impacted by the dine-in ban, offer meals to go, by delivery and curbside pickup, still allowed under the emergency restrictions.

Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI – The Food Industry Association, was absolutely right when she said late last week, “Our industry has proven itself time after time in periods of emergency, as evidenced by its strength and confidence in the ability to meet the needs of the communities it serves, no matter the circumstance.”

Plenty of folks are going to be worried, frustrated and on edge in the coming days. Your commitment to their needs as grocers and solution providers will be essential not only to securing continued sales and loyalty, but to the preservation of the community and its successful emergence from this crisis.

Delivering solutions is in every grocer’s DNA. When people need you most, it’s your time to shine.

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