These days it’s anything but business as usual for companies around the globe, but some grocery retailers, including Smart & Final, are seeing a glimmer of hope when it comes to increased inventory and an easing of shopper hoarding.
Encouraged by improved inventory availability, Commerce, Calif.-based Smart & Final returned to regular store hours March 30, which is 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for most locations. Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. is still reserved for customers 60 and older, expectant women, people with disabilities and those in the first responder field.
“At Smart & Final, we’ve taken a number of steps in the past few weeks to support the increased customer needs at our stores,” said Deb Bell-Versluis, director of corporate communications and charitable foundation for Smart & Final. “We’ve hired temporary employees and placed purchase limits on select items.
“As this new norm has settled in, we’ve seen an improvement in inventory availability, which is why we’re able to offer our customers more options for their shopping needs with expanded store hours. Expanded hours also enable us to spread volume across the day, improving social distancing and enhancing protections of our associates and customers.”
Smart & Final associates are now approved to wear masks as they work, if they choose to. While the company understands that nationwide supply is greatly limited and priority must be given to healthcare workers, Smart & Final is working with industry and government partners to attempt to obtain them. For now, if associates have access to a mask, they are free to wear it at their discretion.
Additionally, Smart & Final has added social distancing decals on the floor to indicate where shoppers need to stand to maintain six feet of separation. It has also begun installing Plexiglas sneeze guards at checkout.
“Our associates continue to work hard to ensure that all items are in stock,” continued Bell-Versluis, “and we credit our amazing team for adapting to Smart & Final’s comprehensive overnight store stocking and cleaning, as well as hourly cleaning of high-frequency touch points in our stores.”