Grocery stores react to COVID-19 outbreak, increased shoppers

Posted at 4:53 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 20:18:11-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Grocery stores are responding to increased shopping as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds in Tennessee.

Kroger grocery store is reporting an extremely high demand for products in the past five days. Melissa Eads, a spokesperson for the Nashville office, said it's been busy.

"I think you could say this has been Christmas selling on steroids," said Eads. "A lot of customers are buying on average five times more than they would normally buy during a normal shopping trip. That has obviously put a lot of pressure on our ability to stay stocked."

Employees are working longer hours and the region's 91 stores are placing a higher demand on the area warehouses for more supplies.

"We're continuing to stock as fast and as furiously as we can as we receive orders," said Eads. "Obviously, when this kind of pressure is put on your stock levels in a store, it filters down to, you know, it's more demand on our warehouse to get more on trucks and get more out to us. It's more on our manufacturers who are struggling to keep up with producing these products which are flying off the shelves."

The items that are most difficult to find are toilet paper, paper towels and hand sanitizer. However, non-perishable food has also been in high demand.

Eads said there's also an emphasis on keeping the store clean as many people are gathering there every day.

"[We're] cleaning our cashier stations, cleaning our credit card readers, cleaning our conveyor belts, food service counters, making sure that as we are restocking we're making sure that we are cleaning, just focused on those areas," she said.

Both Kroger and Publix have changed their hours in Middle Tennessee. Eads said she hopes people can remain calm as they shop amongst the high demand.