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Grocery stores adjust hours to fight against COVID-19 shortages


Many chain grocery stores are adjusting their hours in an attempt to ensure the shelves are restocked and full for customers amid runs on products connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

ABC 17 News was live Thursday morning outside of Hy-Vee on West Broadway. It's one of many stores offering special shopping hours for people at-risk of COVID-19.

Everyday essentials such as toilet paper and disinfectant cleaners have been hard to find as people continue to stock up and prepare for possible CVOID-19 quarantines. 

Walmart changed its operating hours last Sunday to be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. going forward. The release stated “this will ensure associates are able to stock the products our customers are looking for and to perform cleaning and sanitizing."

Target announced the reduction of hours starting Wednesday. All stores will close at 9 p.m. to help replenish the stock and give workers time to thoroughly clean the stores. 

Target’s release also stated it will “reserve the first hour of shopping each Wednesday to support vulnerable guests, including the elderly and those with underlying health concerns.”

Hy-Vee is another grocery chain that has announced its hours changing. In a release sent Tuesday, Hy-Vee stated stores will close at 8 p.m. starting Wednesday.

“These shortened hours will allow employees additional time to clean and sanitize all areas of the store, as well as restock the items in highest demand," the company said. "Operating with shorter hours also will allow employees additional time to care for their families and loved ones.”

ABC 17 News spoke with managers of Columbia's West Broadway Hyvee about when the store is restocked.

Hyvee mangers said three to four trucks deliver products every day, but what exactly the product is depends on the day.

The managers said each store is limited in how much it can order each day.

Hy-Vee said it has five employees cleaning the store at all times. Even though the stores close to the public at 8 p.m., cashiers will continue to work until 10 or 11 p.m. to help disinfect the cash registers and other areas in the store.

Local customers are worried that daily essentials will be hard to find if people continue buying in bulk.

“I was planning on making spaghetti,” said Elizabeth Nowell a Columbia Resident.”That’s an easy and cheap meal. There’s no spaghetti sauce at all so it’s not possible. Just simple everyday item you can’t find.”

Hyvee officials said their supply has not stopped across the country, it’s still moving it may just take a few days to get exactly what you want.

“We have plenty of suppliers come forward and say we have plenty of supply it’s just a matter of we can’t meet the excessive demand of these levels,” said Tina Potthoff, Hyvee's Senior Vice President of Communications.

One Columbia said she and her friends have been on the hunt for toilet paper.

“I’ve seen a shortage of toilet paper probably like most everyone," said Brooke McCarty, a Columbia resident. "I’ve had some friends that were out of toilet paper so I was able to find it at one point. And it’s to that point where it’s such a shortage that we’re were literally texting each other like hey I found toluene paper and they’re like buy some.”

Hyvee and Walmart officials said there is no specific day when products are restocked.

"We are running trucks on a 24/7 basis to our stores and they are constantly being delivered," said Potthoff. "But sometimes people will ask me what time is the best to shop is and I don’t have an answer for them. All I can say is as quickly as a truck arrives that’s as quick as we’re turning the products around and getting them on the shelves.”

Tiffany Wilson, Walmart's Director of Communications said that store managers are now allowed to limit the amount of product each customer gets. 

“You may start to see those limitations in your local stores if you haven’t already,” said Wilson.

Wilson said this will allow customers who are shopping throughout the day to get what they need and minimizing people getting more than they need at one time.

Potthoff said that supply has not stopped across the country, it’s still moving it may just take a few days to get exactly what you want.

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Amber Tabeling

Amber Tabeling

Amber joined the ABC 17 News team as a multimedia journalist in December 2019. She was a student-athlete at Parkland College and Missouri Valley College. She hails from a small town in Illinois.


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