Port Washington, New York-based Associated Supermarkets Group (ASG) says independent supermarkets are open and servicing their customer’s grocery needs despite facing many challenges, including lack of employees and an uncertain supply of goods due to the pandemic. Supermarket owners, along with their employees are on the front lines, opening their doors every day to keep food and other necessities accessible to their customers, while complying with newly established regulations, such as social distancing and overcrowding, ASG says.
Due to the tremendous demand for food, paper and cleaning items created by the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, including an increased at-home consumption, supermarkets are facing supply challenges as wholesalers and manufacturers can’t keep up with the demand. Additionally, the virus has also affected manufacturing plants and wholesalers.
The lack of employees and difficulties finding employees willing to work at supermarkets, is another challenge that these family owned businesses have encountered. The daily restocking of shelves due to the unprecedented demand from customers have taken a toll on these supermarkets and their employees.
Nonetheless, most of these independent supermarkets are taking steps and protocols to implement the CDC’s and the State’s recommendations to ensure the public and their employees stay safe, including social distancing, crowd control, providing masks and gloves to their employees, installing plexiglass at register areas, and professionally sanitizing the premises with frequency.
Independent supermarket owners are asking the public’s cooperation to shop safely.
“Most customers are taking precautions by covering their faces, shopping with one or two people at most, and maintaining a safe social distance between other customers when inside the stores,” said Bill Fani, owner of Met Foods and The Village Barn supermarkets in Staten Island and Queens. But we still need public cooperation and mindfulness that our supermarkets are smaller, and we need to protect our employees in order to continue to operate during this crisis. We are asking that people cover their mouth and nose when shopping, have patience to come into the store and to discard of their gloves and masks in the proper receptacles. Our employees should not have to increase their exposure because of customer’s littering their used personal protective equipment.”
Joe Garcia, president and CEO of ASG said, “Many of the stores we serve are stepping up their hygiene and sanitation efforts to hospital grade sterilizations and the investment is a significant one for these small businesses. Public collaboration is needed with proper hygiene and discipline so that we can continue to support the stores with retail services and solutions to operate safely while fighting the silent enemy, COVID-19. ASG has arranged for supermarkets in the network to have access to PPE for their employees, in addition to sneeze guards for registers and proper social distancing signage. It’s main supplier C&S Wholesale Grocers has adapted a no-contact delivery system.”