Some Langley stores are beginning to offer seniors-only shopping during the current COVID-19 crisis by opening earlier to allow older customers to avoid crowds .
Moreno’s Market and Deli owner Jill Moreno said she decided to start opening early for seniors after she saw an internet meme that showed an older woman confronted by empty shelves as a result of panic buying.
“She was looking at the grocery shelves, and they were completely empty,” Moreno recalled.
Moreno issued an online invitation to all senior citizens (55-plus) to come in and do their shopping.
“We currently have a lot of stock and we can guarantee a calm peaceful shop without mass lineups and hoarding,” the notice said.
Online reaction was instant and positive, with 50,000 views and 398 shares on the store Facebook page, Moreno reported.
On Tuesday, March 17th, the store at at the corner of 72 Avenue and 200 opened an hour early, at 8 a.m., and about 18 seniors attended.
None were loading up on supplies, though one senior was picking up items for four friends.
“They all had single baskets,” Moreno related.
“It was really quiet.”
She said the seniors seemed “happy” at the chance to shop in peace.
”We are a small store and we cater to local families, and we want to do right by them,” Moreno commented.
In Langley City, Mike’s No Frill store owner Mike Evans was planning to open early for seniors-only shopping, at 8 a.m. this Thursday, March 19th on a trial basis, with plans to continue the practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays depending on how it turns out.
“We couldn’t do it right away due to manpower [issues],” Evans explained.
The store is located at 5501 204 Street in the Langley Mall.
Save-On-Foods stores announced all of their stores, including those in Langley, would open from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. for “seniors, people with disabilities and those most vulnerable to shop in a less hectic environment and allow for social distancing, as recommended by health officials.”
Regular hours would be limited, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In making the announcement, the company said it was also encouraging customers who can shop in-store to do so “and leave the online shopping services available to those who are not able to get to the store, including seniors, people with disabilities and those who are ill or self-isolating.”
Save-On-Foods president Darrell Jones said the chain will not be raising prices and will work with staff on a case-by-case basis to minimize any interruption in pay
Shoppers Drug Mart, the cross-Canada chain which operates several stores in Langley, announced it was devoting the first opening hour of shopping to “customers who need assistance or consideration, including seniors and people living with disabilities.”
Some stores were going to open early to accommodate those customers, who were advised to check with their local Shoppers to confirm operating hours.
Galen Weston, the executive chairman of Loblaws Companies, which owns Shoppers and the Loblaws’ chain of grocery stores, made the announcement on Monday.
“We all agree that food and drug stores are essential services, and we must do what we need to in order to keep them operating and serving every community in the days and weeks ahead,” Weston declared.
But starting Thursday (March 19), Loblaws will reduce store hours to allow staff time for “extra sanitation and a bit of rest,” Weston said in a statement.
Loblaws operated supermarkets will open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. with the first hour dedicated to seniors and those with disabilities.
Certain locations will also begin limiting the number of customers allowed in a store at one time.
“We will begin temporarily waiving the $0.05 plastic bag fee to discourage the use of reusable bags, and ask those of you who do bring them to bag your own items,” Weston added.
Some Shoppers Drug Mart locations may operate with reduced hours as well.