AT THE CHECKOUT: Grocery stores make adjustments to hours, policies

Sheri Gourd | Daily Press

Silas Davis stocks fresh produce at Save A Lot on Wednesday. The store has been able to get most products, but not always in the quantity ordered.

Local grocery stores have had to make adjustments and set limits as the area has been hit by COVID-19.

Save A Lot will continue its normal hours, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.

“The store is small. We were afraid if we limit hours, we wouldn’t get the customers we have,” said owner Angie Taylor. “We don’t get trucks in the middle of the night like Reasor’s or other places. They come about 7 a.m.”

All but one Tulsa Reasor’s location will change hours to 7 a.m.-9 p.m. so employees can restock and sanitize stores while maintaining social distancing, according to an update released by Reasor’s. Reasor’s is also reserving the 7-8 a.m. hour to shoppers who are at a higher risk of illness, including those 60 and older and with compromised immune systems, and expectant mothers.

Keeping the stores clean and stocked are high priorities for the grocers. Taylor said employees are constantly disinfecting all touchable surfaces.

“We supply gloves, but we’re not forcing them to wear them,” she said. “I think everyone is generally concerned, but I don’t have anyone who is afraid.”

Reasor’s stated that in addition to regular cleaning procedures, employees have increased the frequency of sanitizing all areas.

“We are cleaning commonly used high-traffic areas more often, including cashier stations, credit card pin pads, conveyor belts, and food service counters. We are also sanitizing and restocking our restrooms more frequently, and ensuring disinfectant wipes are available at the front of the store to clean carts. We have placed additional hand-sanitizing stations in the stores,” the release stated.

While the supply chain is still strong, Taylor said, some items are more difficult to get in the quantities needed and sales are being limited because people have been buying so much at one time. That has prompted many tales about "hoarding."

“The first week, we saw about a 100-percent increase [in sales],” Taylor said. “We typically get two deliveries a week. We’ve been getting three or four to keep up with demand. We get them more frequently so we can keep the store stocked. The warehouse is coming through for us. Some items we’re getting less of than what we ordered.”

Those items include toilet paper, hand sanitizer, certain Lysol cleaners, bottled water, eggs, potatoes, ramen noodles, and ground beef.

“We’ve had it pretty much every day, but it sells out by the end of the day. There are not any problems with pork, chicken, or other cuts of beef,” said Taylor. “If it’s not there today, it might be tomorrow. We’ll continue to get deliveries.”

At Reasor’s, the volume of online ordering has increased, which has led to hiring more employees and using new technologies. Due to the amount of work, Reasor’s is implementing a Temporary State of Emergency Appreciation Pay of an additional $2 per hour for all hourly employees from March 11 to April 21.

Taylor said she and her husband, Rod, couldn’t keep the store going without their 18 employees.

“Our employees have been incredible. They’ve worked so hard. The meat cutters have worked overtime,” she said. “Most were usually part time, but most are working full time now with school out. They all have a positive attitude. We’ve got this. It’s a really great team effort and I’m really thankful for that.”

Grocery stores have been deemed essential businesses.

“We’ll adhere to any guidance we’re given,” said Taylor. “The National Grocers Association said the 10-people rule doesn’t apply to grocery stores.”

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