Grocery stores work non-stop to replenish empty shelves amid coronavirus pandemic

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Grocery stores like Kroger want to ease shoppers’ minds and let them know shelves will be continuously restocked and the stores will stay open during the coronavirus pandemic.

Melissa Eads, spokesperson for Kroger, said that the outbreak has put a strain on the entire industry from manufacturers – to the distributors – to the suppliers.

“We’re just encouraging people to have faith that we are going to get products in. It’s just…the last five days and the stress that’s put on, you know, it’s kind of a supply-and-demand issue. When everybody’s in there buying five times what they would normally buy, everyone is just struggling to keep up,” Eads said.

She said that the Kroger team is constantly talking about how they can get their shelves replenished faster while the demand is still high.

MORE: Kroger stores to change hours due to coronavirus outbreak

Eads said that manufacturers are changing production to focus on those highly sought-after items.

Trucks are continuously loading with the products and as soon as they make it to the store, they are unloaded onto the shelves as quickly as possible.

Eads said that the grocer also decided to start limiting the number of certain items people can buy.

“We’re limiting quantities to three, like on bottled water and hand sanitizer, hand soap, cold and flu, household cleaning products (and) paper goods. And now we’ve had to expand that into some other areas just to make sure that we can serve more customers,” Eads said.

If a store ran out of certain items, Eads said customers might be able to check back later that day or the next morning to see if those items were restocked.

Amid the empty shelves, especially the shelves carrying items available for SNAP, Kroger is helping out those relying on food assistance.

The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger-Zero Waste Foundation announced Monday that it will commit $3 million “to rapidly deploy hunger-relief resources to food-insecure communities across the country.”

That money will be equally distributed between Feeding America and No Kid Hungry.

While the grocer is also trying to keep the shelves full, it’s also stepping up cleaning.

As one example, whenever those shelves become empty, they are wiped down.

“We’re cleaning commonly used areas more often. That’s the checkout areas, that’s maybe the credit card terminals, your conveyor belts, food service counters. We’ve just increased cleaning throughout the store,” Eads said.

She said the store is also taking extra precautions with their employees.

Any employee sick or with sick ones at home will be able to stay at home with paid leave.

Eads said they also have a plan in place just in case an employee is infected with COVID-19.

Essentially the store would be in contact with the local and state health department and follow their recommendations, including if that store needed to close.

“If we followed all their practices and we cleaned and we sanitize and they were good with us remaining open, that’s of course what we would do, but we would follow their guidance,” Eads said.

If you want to follow social distancing while grocery shopping, Kroger is still offering pick up at the store and home delivery options.

Eads said that keep in mind with pick up at the store option, those items are coming from that location, so if it’s out of products, then you won’t be able to get them until it’s restocked.

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