Business is booming in grocery stores across the nation and Ohio is no exception. Shelves are being picked bare, with panicked shoppers stocking up on everything from essentials to all kinds of food in preparation for self-isolation and other implemented COVID-19 restrictions.
While other businesses are sending employees home, grocers are advertising for help online and in their stores. Online retail sales are booming as well, as Americans are being ordered to self-isolate.
Amazon sales have soared, and the retail giant said expects to add 4,600 jobs in the Buckeye state.
Kroger in St. Clairsville has a help wanted sign posted in the lobby.
“We’ve had a triple whammy here,” said a Kroger manager. “Anyone that isn’t feeling well is told to stay home. Between an increase in online orders, employees occasionally being off sick and restocking the shelves, we suffer being shorthanded.”
The manager said that the store has experienced no shortage of supplies but keeping items on the shelves has been a real challenge. “We just can’t get them on as fast as they’re going off.”
Kroger, which owns Ralphs, Food4Less and other chains, is hiring an additional 10,000 workers in stores, manufacturing plants and distribution centers amid the coronavirus outbreak, a company spokesman confirmed.
Kroger noted that jobseekers could be placed for employment within several days of applying.
Staycee Saffell, a clerk at Riesbeck’s Food Markets in Barnesville, said that there has been a constant stream of shoppers in the store. Saffell said there has been no shortage of grocery items there either, only occasionally the bread is sold but is restocked as new trucks come in.
Riesbeck’s had a help wanted sign posted near the check out.
Saffell said she is not especially concerned about being exposed to the coronavirus. “We take precautions but when you are this close to people and handling the same items, there’s not much else you can do,” said Saffell.
Some of the hottest-selling items are water, bread, milk, eggs, soaps and detergents, said Saffell.
Amazon recently announced it would be adding 100,000 new employees to meet operational needs driven by online sales resulting from COVID-19 scare. About 4,600 of these jobs will be in Ohio, according to Owen Torres, a regional communications manager for Amazon Operations.
Amazon also is said to be raising its pay scale by $2 for employees in the U.S, according to the company’s blog.
An associate at Riesbeck’s in Cambridge said they also are hiring due to being short-staffed.
On the Indeed website, numerous retail grocer jobs in Ohio are listed at between $8 to $15 an hour pay rate.
Meanwhile, some grocers have had to close early to restock shelves and sanitize the stores. Many have set aside hours for seniors only.
Dollar General announced its plans to dedicate the first hour of each shopping day to seniors.
“Dollar General wants to provide these at-risk customers with the ability to purchase the items they need and want at the beginning of each day to avoid busier and more crowded shopping periods,” stated the retail store’s website.
Target stores began doing the same on Wednesday. The first hour of every Wednesday will be reserved for senior shoppers, according to Target’s website.
Walmart announced on Wednesday that it is changing its hours to 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., in an effort to give employees enough time to restock shelves.
Walmart will hold hour-long senior shopping for customers 60 and older beginning March 24 through April 28,, according to its website. The store will open an hour early for seniors each Tuesday. Pharmacies and vision centers will also be open.
Walmart and some other retail grocers have begun to set limits in certain categories, including paper products, milk, eggs, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, water, diapers, wipes, formula and baby food.