Food City president and CEO Steve Smith emphasized the cleanliness of the company’s stores during his online press conference. With COVID-19 becoming more and more pervasive by the day and no slowdown in sight, the sanitization of public places such as Food City is being scrutinized. Mr. Smith went through some of the measures stores are implementing to stay as clean as possible.
“You’re going to see us sanitizing and cleaning throughout the day,” said the CEO.
“We have now assigned someone to the front of our stores who will do nothing but clean and sanitize shopping carts. We’ve installed plexiglass shields at all of our stands and customer service checkout areas throughout our stores.”
He said associates/workers are encouraged to wear gloves as they work. President Smith said the company will supply workers with masks when they become available. The CEO said as of right now, there is a shortage of masks in the United States, and medical professionals get top priority when it comes to attaining these items.
“As those become available, we’ll make them available to our associates at no cost, and hopefully we can get into those by next week,” said President Smith. “In the meantime if they have a homemade mask, they’re welcome and encouraged to wear them.”
Like many other stores in the United States, Mr. Smith said Food City’s supply chain has been affected by the pandemic. During the first few weeks, Food City was sending out more cases of food than they were receiving. He said the company has just now begun to receive more cases than they are sending out.
He said there is no threat of the stores running out of food. However, Mr. Smith did say there will be a shortage of certain items for the foreseeable future.
“I think sanitizers and disinfectants will be in short supply, and some items like bleach will be allocated for a number of weeks or months,” said Mr. Smith. “The good thing is we’re still getting this product in and on a regular basis.”
While Food City is prepared to limit the number of people in stores, Mr. Smith said there is no imminent need to do so at this time. Instead, he trusts Food City customers to exercise good judgement and social distancing as they shop.
“I’m absolutely convinced our customers understand their responsibilities when they come to our stores,” said President Smith. “If they follow those responsibilities I don’t think we’ll have to get into a position where we have to meter people or allow certain numbers of people in.”
If customers do not want to go inside the store, President Smith said curbside pickup is an option. During the press conference, he said this way of shopping is up 350 percent from normal. No matter how one shops though, he asked shoppers to only buy what they need and to avoid “hoarding.”
“Let me stress how critical it is to shop as you need the item,” said the CEO. “Please don’t hoard items, and just shop according to your weekly shopping needs. This will leave more for other folks.”