Since the COVID-19 pandemic came to the forefront, local grocers have been working long hours and designating priority shopping times for senior citizens and other customers who may be particularly susceptible.
Because many store shelves were being emptied, especially of toilet paper and other necessities, due to panic buying or those simply wanting extra supplies while the kids are at home, many seniors were unable to get the products they needed.
To help alleviate this situation during the current crisis, Gerald’s Foodland, Dollar General Market, Holt’s IGA, Save-A-Lot, and Walmart have announced special shopping hours for seniors over 60. The effort allows seniors to purchase much-needed supplies while shopping in less crowded conditions and maintaining social distancing.
While Gerald’s Foodland has been providing extra services for their senior customers for decades, owner David West said that Wednesday mornings from 8-9 a.m. are designated as special senior shopping hours.
Gerald’s employees regularly carry groceries to their customers’ cars, and some individuals call the store (931-433-0110) for an order and the products are handed to them in the parking lot.
Since the impact of the coronavirus first began being felt locally, store personnel have been extremely busy keeping up with demand. That situation appears to be improving, though, as panic buying slows and supply rebounds. Gerald’s, which has also implemented special cleaning measures, is still receiving regular deliveries of groceries, West said, adding that manufacturers of paper products have been running behind on production by about 14 days.
Gerald’s regular hours are Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Dollar General Market
According to Dollar General’s corporate press release, senior shoppers at Dollar General will have access to all stores one hour before they open to the general public from 7 to 8 a.m.
This will allow seniors to shop for much-needed supplies, avoid busier and more crowded shopping hours, and help maintain social distancing.
For the past few years handicapped customers or special needs individuals can sound their vehicle’s horn outside the store, and an associate will take their order and once filled, deliver it to the customer’s vehicle.
Dollar General has two grocery trucks arriving each week, and like other stores, paper products are still in big demand. The store’s normal hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Once closed, the crew wipes down surfaces and sanitizes the store.
Holt’s IGA in Park City has reserved 7 to 8 a.m. for senior shopping every day. Their regular hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. They’ve had to limit purchases on bread and toilet paper, too.
Jamie McBay, manager, said the store’s management is also looking at delivery, but for now, that remains on hold.
“If they come in and need help, we’re happy to get the groceries and take them out to the customers,” said McBay.
Dan Holt, owner of the store, is using some of the employees from his restaurants to help stock shelves, she said, and is using the maintenance crew to help in the store as well.
Save-A-Lot’s corporate headquarters announced special shopping hours for seniors, customers with disabilities and their caregivers. They have requested that customers stay at least two carts apart from other shoppers.
Locally, Save-A-Lot is offering senior shopping hours every day from 8 to 9 a.m., according to Rebecca Hall, one of the store’s four managers. Groceries will be carried out to the parking lot for those who need assistance.
Hall said the store is getting truck deliveries regularly, but it’s been taking longer to stock some of items.
The run on paper products, non-perishable goods, and meats has been slowing down a little, she said, adding that the store has been limiting the quantity of certain goods for the time being, and is closing the store earlier than usual. Regular store hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Across the nation Walmart stores have adjusted their operating hours from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., with special senior shopping hours on Tuesdays from 6 to 7 a.m. for those 60 and older.
Shorter hours allow the store employees time to clean and sanitize the store, while also restocking the shelves.
Travis Jean, manager, said two trucks are delivering groceries every day and associates are stocking paper goods as soon as they arrive.
Currently they are limiting the number of key items, such as paper products, that customers purchase. Meat and produce are delivered from the Shelbyville warehouse.
At first the store was overwhelmed by panic buying, but, Jean said, “Panic buying is slowing down some.” He said most everyone has been really kind, understanding and appreciative of them getting their stock. “We’re working long hours, and we have a great group of people here,” he said.
Walmart offers online shopping for grocery pick up. Orders should be placed two days in advance of the day of pick up. Orders are filled the day they are to be picked up to ensure freshness, he said.
Nationally, Walmart stores have put limits on purchases of paper products, milk, eggs, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, water, diapers, wipes, formula and baby food.