Grocery stores in the Shuswap have set aside time for customers more at risk from COVID-19 to shop in a less crowded environment.
DeMille’s Farm Market in Salmon Arm was one of the first stores to implement the change starting the morning of Wednesday, March 18. The store was opened specially for seniors, people with disabilities and those most vulnerable to shop between 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Save-On-Foods, Askew’s Foods, No Frills Salmon Arm and Pedro’s Farm and Garden Market have all taken similar measures.
Lanni Donaldson took advantage of the designated shopping time at DeMille’s the morning of Thursday, March 19, to get groceries for her mother who is unable to leave the house. Donaldson says the specialized shopping hours should become the usual.
“I’d like to see it done more often than not, even without the pandemic,” Donaldson said. “Seniors get very confused with lots of people and crowds and lots of noise and bright lights.”
Carrie Gleeson, general manager at DeMille’s, said although the mornings have been slow in terms of customers, the online support for the designated hours has been overwhelming.
“We’ve had a lot of responses, people are loving it,” Gleeson said. DeMille’s is offering the specialized hours every day for the foreseeable future.
On Wednesday, Save-On-Foods announced in a Facebook post that along with a reduction of hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., all stores will open from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. specially for seniors and at-risk persons.
Save-On-Foods also encourages customers to shop in-store and leave the online shopping services available to those who are not able to get to the store like seniors and those who are ill or are self-isolating.
Dave Wallace, operations manager at Askew’s Foods, said the chain’s downtown Salmon Arm and Armstrong locations are also rolling out a designated shopping time on Monday, March 23.
“I hope our regular customers do not abuse this and respect that it is for seniors and those with suppressed immune systems,” Wallace said.
Wallace warns customers that stores are still experiencing shortages in toilet paper despite the store’s and its suppliers best efforts to keep the shelves filled. Other items like hand sanitizer and face masks are sold out and remain so due to health care facilities taking priority over shipments.
No Frills in Salmon Arm started persons at risk shopping hours the morning of Thursday, March 19, from 7-8 a.m. The specially designated hour of shopping will be held on Mondays and Thursdays.
Pedro’s Farm & Garden Market in Salmon Arm will be offering a delivery service for seniors in light of the pandemic. Dale Ruth, operations manager at Pedro’s, says plans to offer at risk shopper hours are in the works and will likely be modeled after what other grocery stores in the area are doing.
Those interested in the home delivery service can call the store at 250-832-4919.
Corporate affairs for Walmart Canada did not respond before press time.