It’s an uncertain and challenging time. In the midst of a global health crisis unprecedented in our lifetime, business closures, stay-at-home orders, and priorities of social responsibility are driving significant disruptions in supply chain and changes in consumer behavior. During this period, our industry has been identified as essential, giving us the fortune and the risk of working and serving our community through the COVID-19 crisis.
Despite the many unknowns we face during the pandemic, this period has revealed important certainties about our industry:
- Grocery stores are essential. With limits to outings and fewer places to shop, consumers are relying on grocery stores now more than ever – not only for food and critical health-related products, including soaps, sanitizers, medicines and supplements, but also for goods to support increased time at home with family, like cleaning tools, kitchen items and toys. Through decades of business changes that have repeatedly led to warnings of inevitable obsolescence of conventional supermarkets, today’s crisis reveals a clear message in 2020: grocery stores are critical to our communities and our survival.
- Grocery stores adapt. Recent trends toward smaller meal-specific and experiential grocery shopping trips have reverted back to planned pantry loading for weeks’ worth of necessities. Store teams and buyers have nimbly pivoted to respond to these sudden shifts in buying patterns to keep shelves stocked and meet shoppers’ needs.
- Grocery stores epitomize community and togetherness. Despite a focus on physical distancing, communities, at every level, are uniting more than ever. Like the country’s top tech companies partnering to provide supercomputing capacity to fight the coronavirus, the supermarket industry is openly sharing knowledge and best practices, supporting each other to meet consumers’ critical needs. Grocery stores have historically served as the center of the community. Today they continue to embody the spirit of cohesiveness. As the few places where people can go and interact with others (while remaining six feet apart), supermarkets have reemerged as the locus of communities across the country.
- Grocery stores, suppliers and their team members are heroes. Those working in the grocery stores, distribution centers and production companies – producing, receiving, picking and delivering product; stocking shelves; greeting shoppers at the counter; and ringing up customer orders – are on the front lines of this crisis. Working extra hours, risking exposure and committing time away from their families, our industry’s team members are truly heroes. We are grateful for their service and the incredible work they do, day in and day out.
So, THANK YOU, to our grocery stores, and all of you in the supermarket industry, for your dedication and service today and every day.