How grocery retailers are modifying store hours and operations to keep customers and employees safe

Published March 19, 2020

We’ve all experienced the new normal that’s become grocery shopping in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the staples - toilet paper, water bottles, cleaning supplies and canned goods - are flying off shelves faster than grocers can keep them stocked.

Retailers anticipate this type of surge around expected busy seasons, like the holidays, but many grocers have been unprepared for the reaction to the pandemic.

Here’s how grocers are modifying their operations - and how you can, too, to keep your store running.


Almost all grocery stores are adjusting operating hours

Retailers like Publix, Albertsons, Trader Joes and many others have limited their hours for a couple of reasons: Closing earlier in the evening allows more time for store employees to thoroughly clean the busiest touchpoints in the store. And, following daily shopping surges, it allows more time to stock shelves with the essentials that consumers are after.


Grocers save the first hour of business for at-risk populations

California-based Northgate Market released a statement that, from 7-8 a.m., their stores would be open only to the elderly and disabled. In a statement to the Shelby Report, Northgate Market Co-President Miguel González said, “We recognize the challenge facing seniors and other at-risk populations, and we need to address them by providing them an opportunity to shop for essentials without fear or trepidation.”

It's a great way for retailers to protect and empathize with their communities in this time of crisis, so consider whether this might work for your grocery store, too.

Northgate Market Customer Spotlight


Alternate shopping methods, like curbside pickup, bode well for retailers

Retailers are hyper-focused on keeping their stores clean, but what about consumers who aren’t willing to risk in-person shopping? 

These consumers are instead relying on pickup and delivery options. Researchers have also seen a huge spike in the number of daily downloads for grocery delivery apps. Comparing the average daily downloads in February to Sunday, March 15, Instacart, Walmart Grocery and Shipt have seen a surge of 218%, 160% and 124%, respectively.


In a time of uncertainty, NCR is ready to help

NCR is committed to helping retailers of all sizes navigate the many challenges of the Covid-19 outbreak. For more information or just for an empathetic ear and ideas to help—please contact NCR.

Our retail solutions experts are in the trenches with our customers, working hard to help provide guidance, solutions and recommendations.

You can find us at, have us call you back, call us in the U.S. at 1-800-CALL-NCR or call outside of the U.S. at 1-937-445-1936.

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