Kroger is making changes in its stores, effective immediately, to help shoppers get the basics they need and prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The company invited WCPO’s cameras into its Downtown Cincinnati store on Wednesday to show us the changes it is making throughout the chain.
Spokeswoman Erin Rolfes said the biggest change shoppers will see is the closing of all personal-service meat and seafood counters, as well as salad bars.
"You will see closures of our service departments, our meat case, salad bars," Rolfes said. "It's not due to concerns about spreading disease... it is all just to reallocate resources to make sure the shelves are stocked."
She said steaks, seafood, and lunch meat will be sliced and packaged overnight and placed in coolers for customers to grab.
"There's no change in product, there just won't be someone to hand it to you from behind the counter."
Shorter hours, more endcaps
This comes just days after Kroger reduced its hours, with Ohio stores opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 9 p.m. to allow for cleaning and restocking.
"Our reduced hours will give our associates extra time to restock the shelves overnight," Rolfes said.
When shoppers visit their Kroger store in the morning, she said, they will see more endcaps stocked with essentials like bottled water and paper towels, making them easier to find.
She says toilet paper continues to come in from manufacturers and warehouses, and Kroger is getting it into stores as quickly as possible.
However, more items will be limited to just three per customer, including:
•Cold and flu supplies
•Household cleaning items
"Those product limits are in place so everyone has a chance to purchase," Rolfes said.
Kroger is exploring the option of early morning hours, she said, but has not made any decision yet.
As a token of appreciation to employees trying to keep stores stocked, Kroger is giving associates a gift of a $25 gift card.
It will also pay any full-time employees for 14 days if they are are forced to quarantine at home.
And although other employers are cutting workers right now, Kroger plans to hire 10,000 additional workers in the coming weeks to help stock and clean stores.
Applicants can visit jobs.kroger.com to apply.
Kroger hopes to have some sense of normalcy return in the next few weeks. In the meantime, the company asks shoppers to just shop for one week's worth of groceries at a time, so everyone has a chance to get what they need.