“Continuing to take steps to promote social distancing”
Wal-Mart via social media, 3/31/20
OBSERVATIONS: Ever since grocery stores began carrying a limited supply of essentials, particularly toilet paper, milk and fresh produce, the panic-buying/hoarding all witnessed last month both in Chicagoland and nationwide has been limited to the month of March.
And while grocery store shopping no longer contains the “panicked”/”anxious” looks of shoppers that was witnessed three weeks ago, the pendulum has swung in the other direction, to being too casual.
While trying to be “socially distant” and respectfully not wanting to crowd people, too many shoppers have turned a trip to the grocery store into family outings. Seems unwise, as grocery stores are a petri dish of infections waiting to happen.
Until the National Emergency is over, now is not the time to be reading labels in stores apart from freshness dates. And geez, cut the chit-chat.
This comment from a gentleman on Twitter appears to be common sense:
“Couple of things people can do [grocery shopping]:
“1. Come alone. If you ‘need’ to accompany someone for help, leave that person at home.
“2. If you must go with another person, which you shouldn’t, keep your mouth shut in the store. Don’t talk and spread germs all over the place. “Someone on Twitter with ideas I agree with
While wearing masks outside of the home is strongly encouraged by the authorities, but still not required, local grocery stores are implementing additional policies as a response to people taking the continuing National Emergency too casually.
Take this announcement on Saturday from Meijer, with stores in McHenry County:
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Meijer announced today additional steps it is taking to make its stores safe for both shoppers and team members. In addition to amplifying its communication to customers about social distancing practices, Meijer is now asking its customers to limit the number of shoppers who come to the store on each trip.
Following are the newest steps the retailer has taken to help make the stores as safe as possible:
- Asking customers to limit the number of shoppers per trip, while understanding that some customers may need additional assistance.
- Implementing processes to monitor the number of customers in our stores. This includes managing the number of customers shopping to support proper social distancing practices.
- Conducting daily health screenings and temperature checks of team members as they arrive at the store.
- Completing installation of protective plexiglass shields at all check lanes and pharmacies in its 248 supercenters and stores.
- Adding signage and broadcast announcements inside the store educating customers about proper social distancing.
- Temporarily suspending the weekly sales ad beginning April 12 to decrease customer count inside the store.
These new steps supplement the previous actions the retailer has implemented, which include:
- Suspending the use of re-usable bags by customers in its stores unless they’re being used for the retailer’s Shop & Scan program.
- Discontinued accepting beverage containers for return at its Michigan stores.
- Temporarily removed Sandy the Pony from the front end of its stores.
- Placed decals on the floor 6 feet apart in areas where customers may congregate, such as lines for check lanes, pharmacy and service desk counters.
- Suggesting customers use the length of their shopping carts to gauge appropriate distance from others where there aren’t decals on the floor.
- Implemented reduced shopping hours to support deeper cleaning overnight and re-stocking efficiency.
- Implemented dedicated shopping hours for senior citizens, customers with chronic health conditions and essential service workers.
- Encouraging use of the “express pay” option through the Meijer pharmacy enhanced text messaging program, which provides a contactless experience when picking up most prescriptions.</p>
“We continue to look for additional ways to ensure the safety of our customers and team members in the face of this difficult challenge.
“By working together, we can reduce the spread of this virus and help keep our communities safe.”Meijer President & Chief Executive Officer Rick Keyes, 4/4/20
Those old enough to remember the gasoline lines at local gas stations in the late 1970s, and waiting outside in lines to go into a convenience store while being a minor are having flashbacks. That is what grocery shopping will become until the National Emergency is over and the pandemic ends, which may not be until mid summer.
But locally, while stores allow groups of 10-12 customers to enter the store at one time, monitoring and allowing customers into a store will become dependent on a customer leaving the store as soon as this week.
Grocery shopping in 2020 is like buying gasoline in the late 1970s, something you have to get up early in the morning and wait in line until the stores are open to get a limited supply.