As coronavirus continues to spread in the United States, retailers across the country are facing tremendous challenges to cope with the situation. There is no arguing the fact that grocery stores, in particular, are facing unprecedented pressure as they have to contend with supply chain issues, safety issues, and panic-buying as people are stocking up on essential items. Retailers can help prevail a sense of calm in the community by ensuring continual access to food, medicine, and other essential provisions.
Groceries and pharmacies pose a bigger threat to the transmission of the virus because there is a lot of foot traffic making it difficult to practice social distancing. Government and concerned health agencies have issued new SOPs for grocery store operations during the current pandemic. However, desperate times call for desperate measures. It is time for grocery stores to go the extra mile and roll out new measures to protect workers and customers.
Here is what grocery stores can do to ensure the wellbeing of their workers as well as make grocery shopping safe and secure for consumers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the exposure to respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes is the main medium of COVID-19 transmission.
Grocery stores should consider installing see-through sneeze guards and plexiglass at checkout counters to prevent the transmission of the virus between cashiers and shoppers. These installations add protective layers and also provide reassurance and peace of mind.
Sanitize Carts, Counters & Frequently Touched Surfaces
Stores need to have a detailed and well-thought-out plan to sanitize frequently touched surfaces such as payment pads, self-service kiosks, carts, food counters, and checkout counters on a regular basis.
Many of the retailers have made special teams dedicated to sanitization of the store and have also formulated the premise’s sanitation plans and schedules. Retailers must provide clean carry-out bags for purchased food and grocery products. It is also important to increase hand sanitizer stations in your store and ensure that the washrooms are always stocked with liquid soaps and paper towels.
Public Health officials have recommended that people practice social-distancing as a measure to minimize the spread of the virus. In grocery stores, customers must maintain at least 6 feet distance from others.
Grocery stores can help people maintain that 6 feet physical distance by marking the floor with chalks, tapes, floor stickers, or other crafty means.
Limiting the Number of Customers at a Time
Grocery store owners must monitor and limit the number of people in the store at any one time. Some of the experts suggest having no more than 6 customers per 1,000 square feet as it will allow customers and workers to maintain 4-6 feet distance easily.
Have an employee at the store entrance responsible to limit the number of people entering the store at one time.
Senior Shopping Hour
Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more susceptible to COVID-19. Retailers can help senior shoppers and other more at-risk groups by introducing special shopping hours so that they get essential items at a comfortable pace while avoiding crowds.
Reserve a time slot at the start of the day right after you sanitize the store and (sadly) before the crowds empty the shelves of high-demand items.
PPE for Workers
PPE is a set of protective equipment that protects its users against health and safety risks. Grocery stores workers are at a greater risk as exposure to the public is the main part of the job. This includes scanning, bagging groceries, and filling prescriptions.
Grocery store owners and managers should consider providing PPE to their staff as they are doing a service to the community in these stressful times.
Use Digital Signage
Digital signage is an interactive tool that helps retailers stay in touch with customers, improve the shopping experience, and provide customers with the most scarce commodity of these times: RIGHT INFORMATION.
Since everybody is a little stressed, you can use digital signage to instill a sense of calm by featuring content such as Inspirational messages, soothing videos from the beach, and remind people to wash their hands and practice social distancing.
Introduce Delivery Options
Despite taking all the preemptive measures, the last thing you’d want is people who are coughing and sneezing to enter your store. However, it’s more important to cater to people showing symptoms.
Introduce delivery options for people who are experiencing symptoms and have to quarantine. You can take orders from the website as it also helps consumers see if a product is out of stock.
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