Buehler’s Fresh Foods is giving customers concerned about coming to the grocery store during the coronavirus pandemic a heads-up on the “best time to shop.”
Wooster, Ohio-based Buehler’s has launched a new online tool dubbed “Best Time to Shop,” which provides a color-coded indicator of the slowest and busiest store hours.
On a weekly basis, Buehler’s will evaluate sales at each store for every hour and project the next week’s customer counts into three-hour time segments. That data then will be translated into color-coded time charts for each store, with red indicating the busiest shopping times, yellow showing average store traffic and green representing the slowest shopping times.
Customers can access the Best Time to Shop feature on the Buehler’s website. Charts will be shown for each of the supermarket chain’s stores, with the one-week time period indicated at the top.
According to Buehler’s President and CEO Dan Shanahan, the tool will not only help promote safety during the COVID-19 outbreak, but also help customers with their planning.
“The state of Ohio has requested that we help space the business out by limiting the maximum number of customers allowed, posting it on our front door and then making sure if we hit the maximum a queue is spaced six feet apart outside,” he explained. “We applaud that request and think that, in addition, Buehler’s ‘Best Time to Shop’ will help to spread the business out even further without making people wait in line outside. Limiting business at peak times is also naturally regulated by the number of carts, hand baskets and parking spots that we have in our stores.”
Buehler's shopping data will be translated into color-coded time charts for each store, with red indicating the busiest shopping times, yellow showing average store traffic and green representing the slowest shopping times.
Using the tool, customers will be able to exercise social distancing more easily when they shop at less busy times, as shopping is spread out across the whole week, Shanahan noted.
“As our frontline heroes continue to keep our stores running, the safety of our employees and customers continues to be our focus,” he added. “Customers are giving us positive feedback and appreciation for all that we are doing for their safety. We think they will really like checking in with ‘Best Time to Shop’ each week.”
In response to the pandemic, Buehler’s said it has been monitoring all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) communications and working with government agencies, suppliers, the Ohio Grocers Association and the National Grocers Association to bolster its virus control procedures. Safety measures include the suspension of self-serve demos and increased cleaning of surfaces throughout the store, such as the wiping down of shopping cart handles throughout the day.
Buehler’s, too, has stepped up support of employees. Last week, the company announced $250,000 in appreciation pay to all employees as they continue to work during the coronavirus health crisis. The bonus pay is retroactive to March 15 and will run to April 18. The grocery chain said it also has retained 227 workers hired from local restaurants that had closed temporarily and reassigned them to other store departments.
“Over the last three weeks, the character of our employees has shown through and made a lasting impression on all the customers who rely on us, new customers, suppliers and other stakeholders who are connected to us,” Shanahan commented. “This has manifested itself with countless individual examples too numerous to name. Our people are truly inspirational, and we are thrilled that we are able to pay this bonus.”
And starting this week, Buehler’s will provide gloves and reusable face masks to workers who want them. The retailer said the move came in response to employee requests. In addition, the company will be closed for Easter Sunday, April 12, to give staff a day of rest as well as enable employee personal carryover days from 2019 to be used anytime in 2020.
Buehler’s operates 13 supermarkets in Wooster (two locations), Orrville, Wadsworth, Medina (two locations), Ashland, New Philadelphia, Dover, Canton, Coshocton, Portage Lakes and Massillon, Ohio.
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