Supermarkets Use Social Media in Storm

NEW YORK — Supermarkets along the East Coast used Facebook and Twitter to keep customers informed about store closings throughout Hurricane Irene.

NEW YORK — Supermarkets along the East Coast used Facebook and Twitter to keep customers informed about store closings throughout Hurricane Irene.

“All of our stores located in Mandatory Evacuation Areas will be closing. As we learn details we'll post on Facebook & Twitter,” each of A&P [4]’s banners said in Twitter posts on Saturday.

Many supermarkets in New York appeared to have been caught off guard by the city’s decision to shut down mass transit on Saturday, forcing stores to close early so their workers could get home.

After originally tweeting on Friday that its stores would remain open on Saturday, Whole Foods Market [5] soon retracted that statement and tweeted that its New York City stores would remain open all night Friday and close at 9 or 10 a.m. Saturday. They remained closed through the weekend.

Similarly, FreshDirect said it was forced to cancel deliveries when it learned the transit system was shutting down. “I'm sorry. I understand why you're upset. But with MTA shut down at noon, we had to ensure our workers could safely get home,” FreshDirect tweeted to one customer on Saturday.

In North Carolina and Virginia, where power outages were widespread, Harris Teeter [6] used Facebook to let shoppers know where it was making water and ice available, and some customers quickly reposted the locations on Twitter.

Big Y [7], meanwhile, tweeted the locations of its closed Connecticut stores to customers: Groton, Mystic, Old Lyme, Guilford, Branford, North Branford, Stratford, New Milford, Plainfield and Killingly — and at least one that was open on generator power in Plainville.

Supervalu [8] also used Twitter and Facebook to inform customers of closings at its Shaw’s and Shoppers Food Warehouse locations, while one Shaw’s manager in Peabody, Mass., tweeted some words of encouragement to potential shoppers: “We Are Open, we have plenty of water and plenty of ice and the bakery has lots of fresh baked sweets to help sweeten the day.”