Vallarta, Northgate, Sedano’s, and other supermarket chains around the country are taking new steps to address the coronavirus pandemic. They decided to establish special hours in their stores to serve seniors and people with disabilities exclusively, who are considered the most vulnerable to the virus.
Vallarta Supermarkets announced that starting March 18, its 50 stores located in California will exclusively serve seniors, pregnant women, and people with disabilities from 7 am to 8 am. General customer service begins at 8 am and closes at 8 pm, according to a statement from the Hispanic supermarket chain.
“Our customers, especially our most vulnerable can depend on Vallarta Supermarkets to continue providing fresh premium-quality products and excellent customer service during these stressful times,” said Andrew Lewis, Vice President of Marketing, Vallarta Supermarkets. “These special hours, along with our efforts to improve checkout times, restock shelves, and assist with customer service are some of the changes we’re making in an effort to meet the high demand during the coronavirus pandemic.”
The Northgate González supermarket chain, located in California, also established special hours for seniors and people with disabilities, from 7 am to 8 am.
“During these challenging times, Northgate González Market is here to serve as your trusted partner in providing you and your family with all your food and grocery item needs. We recognize the challenge facing seniors and other at-risk populations, and we need to address them by providing them an opportunity to shop for essentials without fear or trepidation. Our customers’ and store associates’ safety are our number one concern,” said Northgate Market co-president Miguel González about the actions they are taking to address the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, on the East Coast, Sedano’s Supermarkets announced new special hours in all of its Florida stores for this vulnerable sector of the population.
“We understand that there are members of the communities we serve that are more vulnerable than others. As such, effective Thursday, March 19, 2020, the 7 am to 8 am hour will be dedicated to seniors aged 65+, and the immunocompromised members of our communities. We ask our customers to be patient, kind and respect that this hour will be prioritized to serve these individuals. We will continue monitoring this situation and adjusting operations and policies as required,” Sedano’s reported.
In Texas, Foodtown, which has 30 stores, announced special hours from 7 am to 8 am, beginning March 17, for seniors. To access supermarkets during the special hours, people will need to present identification, the chain of stores said.
Vista Markets, which has six stores in El Paso, Texas, will open from 6:30 am to 7 am for customers over 65.
In the northeast, the 400-store Stop & Shop supermarket chain also began a 6 am to 7:30 am schedule exclusively for those over 60, and Dollar General, which operates more than 15,000 stores in 44 states, is dedicating its first hour of each shopping day to senior shoppers.
“In keeping with our mission and our ongoing commitment to serve our communities, we are dedicating the first hour of each day to seniors. 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,” said Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s CEO.
Across the country, supermarkets continue to experience shortages of groceries and cleaning products due to consumer panic buying. With the schedule adjustments they are implementing, stores hope they will soon be able to normalize the restocking of products on the shelves.
Besides, health authorities recommend that the community avoid crowds as much as possible to reduce the risk of contagion. For the most vulnerable people, such as the elderly and those with chronic diseases, experts recommend that they stay home and send family or friends to do their grocery shopping for them, if possible.