Retailers act to protect seniors from coronavirus shopping chaos and contamination
Scenes of panic buying in grocery stores have become a fixture of daily life in the midst of the global coronavirus outbreak. For the elderly, navigating such instances can be uncomfortable, difficult and even dangerous. Recognizing this, grocers in Australia and Dollar General in the U.S. have begun setting aside specific times to cater to the needs of seniors and those with physical disabilities.
Woolworths and some IGA locations are restricting shopping exclusively to the elderly and those with disabilities on Tuesday through Friday of this week between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., according to Australian news outlet 10 Daily. The chain did not specify if the hours will be adopted week-over-week or for how long into the future.
Dollar General announced yesterday that it is looking to set aside the first hour of each day for seniors to shop in its stores.
The retailer issued a statement explaining its rationale: “Dollar General is strongly encouraging that the first hour of operations each day be dedicated solely for the shopping needs of senior customers, who are one of the groups most vulnerable to the COVID-19 coronavirus. In keeping with the Company’s mission of Serving Others, Dollar General wants to provide these at-risk customers with the ability to purchase the items they need and want at the beginning of each day to avoid busier and more crowded shopping periods. Other customers are encouraged to plan their shopping trips around this window of time to allow the most susceptible customers in our communities the ability to shop during the first hour that stores are open.”
Governments worldwide have advised against panic buying and excessive stockpiling as the coronavirus pandemic has spiraled from a regional outbreak to a global catastrophe impacting 162 countries.
People have been panic buying such products as soap and hand sanitizer due to their role in potentially preventing infection from the virus, privately stockpiling unnecessarily large quantities while others have to go without.
Other products such as toilet paper and paper towels have disappeared from grocery store shelves over the past few days despite the lack of a direct relationship to the symptoms associated with the COVID-19 infection.
Retailers have had to curb and limit the purchase of toilet paper and other items. Experts ascribe the impulse to purchase such items as arising, not just from fear of contagion, but from a lack of clear guidance from the government about what will be necessary in the coming weeks or months.
The elderly not only face a danger in navigating crowded stores, but going out to shop in large crowds could be putting themselves at a greater risk of severe illness or death from the disease than younger groups.
- Woolworths, IGA Introduce Shopping Hour For Elderly To Combat Coronavirus Panic Buying – 10 Daily
- Dollar General Announces First Hour of Operations to be Dedicated to Senior Customers – Dollar General
- Why Coronaviruses Hit Older Adults Hardest – AARP
- Why is toilet paper vanishing from supermarkets? – Fox Business
- COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreak – Worldometer
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should other American retailers set aside specific hours for the elderly and disabled to shop? How else might grocers approach the unique problems facing susceptible and disadvantaged populations during the coronavirus outbreak?