Beginning Thursday, March 19, all Stop & Shop grocery stores will open earlier in order to service only customers who are age 60 and over from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. daily. The company is taking the step to protect shoppers considered most vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19).
In a statement released Monday, Stop & Shop said, “We’re making the decision to offer this every day of the week to allow for community members in this age category to shop in a less crowded environment, which better enables social distancing. They’ll also be shopping prior to any other customers entering.”
Starting Thursday, customers aged 60 and over can use a designated entrance, which will be marked at their local store during the hours of 6:00 to 7:30 a.m. Although Stop & Shop will not be requesting ID for entry, the retailer is asking shoppers to “please respect the purpose of the early opening — and do the right thing for your neighbors.”
Stop & Shop, a division of Ahold Delhaize USA, operates over 400 stores throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey.
The company had earlier announced that most stores have adjusted their hours to 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. to enable associates to spend more time unloading deliveries, stocking shelves and take some time for rest. “Please note that our stores receive deliveries throughout the day, so our shelves will be replenished for shoppers at all hours,” said Gordon Reid, president, The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., in a statement. “And we have implemented added cleaning and sanitation efforts, which will continue throughout the day at all stores.”
Home delivery service will remain available to all customers as well, along with Stop & Shop’s new “Contact-Free” delivery option. With this service, Stop & Shop will notify customers by text or email when the driver arrives, and they will simply leave the bags on the doorstep or building entry and return to their vehicle. The company acknowledged that there may be some delays with this service due to unprecedented demand, but they are continuing to improve to meet customer needs.
The company also said that it is temporarily suspending customer pickup services as a result of too much demand. “Our store associates will instead focus on stocking product and other key priorities that will better meet the needs of all customers at this time,” Stop & Shop said in a statement. “The service will be made available again once product availability increases.”
The rapid advance of COVID-19 has been declared a national emergency, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, as of Monday, there are 3,487 cases and have been 68 deaths in the United States.
Food retailers have been taking steps such as modifying store hours and limiting quantities of key items to ensure the safety of customers and employees, while also trying to keep shelves stocked and stores clean. Over the past week, shoppers have packed supermarkets, mass merchant and other retail stores to stock up on essential food and health products and emergency supplies, leaving shelves bare for such items as hand sanitizer, face masks and disposable gloves, disinfectant wipes, bathroom tissue, paper towels, dry groceries and shelf-stable beverages.
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