The many changes brought on by coronavirus prevention measures in recent weeks have transformed the region’s largest grocery chain and now may include one that would have shoppers traveling just in one direction through food store aisles in some stores nationwide.
Officials at the Cincinnati-based Kroger Company said Friday it will experiment with some of its stores across the country on implementing one-way aisles to help lessen physical proximity among shoppers.
The “directional shopping,” said Kroger officials, will “further support physical distancing.” They did not identify which stores, if any, locally may try the modification.
No further details were available, said officials.
The latest change tops off a busy month for the national grocery chain, which is the largest in America.
Earlier this week Kroger announced today that shopper stockpiling throughout much of March drove caused sales to sharply accelerate to the tune of approximately 30 percent, excluding fuel.
“This was driven by dramatically heightened demand in the middle of the month as customers were stockpiling, which then tapered, but remained higher than normal in the final week, as customers adjusted to the new dining, work and travel restrictions,” the company said in a release today. “The demand has been broad based across grocery and fresh departments.”
The supermarket operator said sales were already strong in February as shoppers started stocking up.
The COVID-19 pandemic “triggered a significantly greater lift in sales across both physical retail stores and digital channels in March,” a surge that tapered but remained higher than normal in the final week, as customers adjusted to the new dining, work and travel restrictions
Kroger said demand has been broad based across grocery and fresh departments, but it is too early to speculate what will emerge as the “new normal” in food consumption at home or what the impact on sales will be in future periods.
Earlier Kroger announced a bonus for all hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center associates at its family of stores.
The company said it will add $2 an hour “hero bonus” to their base pay for hours worked March 29 through April 18. The premium will be disbursed weekly to ensure associates have access to additional cash.
The hourly bonus is in addition to a one-time $300 bonus that will be paid out to all full-time employees this Friday and a one-time $150 bonus that will be paid out to all part-time employees the same day.
“Our associates have displayed the true actions of a hero, working tirelessly on the frontlines to ensure everyone has access to affordable, fresh food and essentials during this national emergency,” Kroger chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen said in a statement.
“The Hero Bonus is just one more way we continue to convey our thanks and gratitude not only to our existing associates but also to the more than 30,000 new hires who have joined in the past two weeks and those who will soon join the Kroger Family of Companies.”