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Business As Unusual: Notable New Policies and Store Changes Amidst COVID-19 (updated as of April 8, 2020)

By April 8, 2020May 20th, 2020No Comments
raleys wash stations COVID

Many retailers and grocers have made changes to their offerings, policies, and employee benefits during the COVID-19 outbreak.

In the spirit of sharing ideas to service your associates and vulnerable customers, we are providing a list of unusual and creative steps that some of you have taken. For example, Raley’s has instituted something very practical for seniors with their Senior Essential Bags program. Seniors will be less likely to be subjected to out-of-stock pantry items, and they will spend less time in the aisles to get their staples. You can see a full description of their program HERE.

We hope that you can take inspiration from this list so you too, can help your own communities. Please share what you’ve seen so others can benefit!

Safeway implements one-way aisles: Photo from castanet.net
Raley’s provides wash stations at store entrances. Photo taken in Sacramento on March 29, 2020
Costco institutes 6 feet of distance between customers, photo taken at Costco in Elk Grove, CA on March 25, 2020

Unusual Partnerships

  • Aldi partners with McDonald’s in Germany to share staff for employment continuity

Customer Programs:

  • Senior Essentials Bags:  Two options are available, one priced at $20 (includes fresh items and pantry staples like oatmeal, canned goods, pasta and oranges) and at $35 (includes freshly prepared heat-and-eat entrees and salads) (Raley’s)
  • Senior Concierge Service: Shopping done by associates and then loading into seniors’ parked cars during their own special hours (Sam’s Club)

Employee Benefits:

  • $1-$2 raise to all hourly employees until the end of April (Whole Foods, Wegmans, Weis Markets, Target and Canadian retail giants Sobeys, Loblaws, Metro, Natural Grocers, Amazon)
  • A 10 percent pay raise for all 70,000 employees (Stop and Shop)
  • Discretionary and flat rate bonuses for team members (Natural Grocers, Walmart, Kroger)
  • A relief fund for employees quarantined or diagnosed with COVID-19 (Kroger, Amazon, Whole Foods)
  • In addition to weekly earnings while sick, employees’ in-app tips earned during the 4-week period prior to their diagnosis (Shipt)

Shopping Periods:

  • Exclusive hours for essential health care workers (Meijer, Fresh Thyme)
  • Special hours for store associates to shop (Sam’s Club)

Store Changes:

  • Grocers try one-way aisles to better enforce social distancing guidelines for their shoppers
  • No fees for next-day pickup and pharmacy deliveries (H-E-B)
  • Discontinuance of reusable bags or instructions provided for cleaning reusable bags for sanitary reasons (Hy-Vee, Wegmans)
  • Window panels to separate cashiers from customers (Hy-Vee, Safeway, Albertsons, Costco)
  • 6-foot yellow demarcation lines for shoppers in line for the cashier (Costco)
  • Suspension of shopper ratings after order deliveries to relieve pressure on workers (Instacart)
  • Closure of select stores or departments to re-allocate workers in more popular locations or other tasks like stocking and sanitation (Schnucks, Costco)
Window panels to separate cashiers from customers, taken at a Safeway in Sacramento, CA on March 22, 2020
Window panels to separate cashiers from customers, photo taken at a Safeway in Sacramento, CA on March 22, 2020

I will be updating this blog whenever we get more new and unusual programs. Please send me an email at mfong@engage3.com. Again, we appreciate you sharing anything that you see or hear about that can benefit others!