Grocery stores around the nation have begun carving out time for seniors and at-risk individuals to shop safely before the general population enters the store. Baton Rouge grocery stores are following suit and setting aside Senior Shopping Hours of their own.
Both Calandro’s Supermarket and Alexander’s Highland Market have made schedule changes to accommodate those most at-risk in the community. Calandro’s and Alexander’s both reserve the first shopping hour of the day for high-risk shoppers. At Calandro’s this means 9-10 a.m. For Alexander’s, it’s 7-8 a.m.
“We view our neighborhood as our family, and family demands that we all behave as team players,” Alexander’s owner Lathan Alexander says. “Those designated hours are necessary for the safety and peace of mind of those who are most vulnerable.”
Alexander hasn’t kept a tally but says the store has been pretty busy with at-risk shoppers during that time period.
The stores are making other accommodations in the interest of health and safety. Shortened business hours at Calandro’s allow for extra cleaning and restocking before the at-risk shopping hour the next morning. Alexander’s is offering curbside pickup service where customers pay for orders online, and the bagged items are placed in their cars without any extra fees or upcharges.
Some national chains like Walmart and Target are setting aside only one or two hours each week for at-risk shoppers, compared to the hour each day set aside by these local grocery stores. Alexander doesn’t see the change as a deterrent for business.
“We are open … a total of 98 hours. I don’t think reserving seven of those hours is too burdensome,” he says. “I sense that seniors represent more of our population than one hour per week would accommodate. I understand other businesses may have other challenges, but for us, one hour per week doesn’t seem to be an adequate response to this crisis.”