The Coronavirus scare has driven millions into the nation’s stores, causing a mass panic buy of goods that has left many store shelves bare or well beneath capacity. As the vice president of corporate affairs for Stater Bros. supermarkets, Nancy Negrette has had to contend with an array of issues that are of concern for every American.
Speaking with Pasadena Now, Negrette addressed the issues of supply hoarding, as well as the restocking of shelves, in a wide-ranging conversation.
PNow: There has been quite a run on products. What are you folks doing in response to that?
Negrette: As far as products, we are receiving shipments constantly throughout the day and the evenings to replenish the stock. And although the deliveries are sporadic, we’re definitely getting products in and we have teams working around the clock to ensure that there’s product available for the community.
PN: And I’m guessing that’s more than usual, to have teams working around the clock?
Negrette: Correct. We have teams working around the clock to get product to our distribution center, and we have twice as many trucks delivering to stores. And we have teams that are working around the clock to stock the shelves as they’re available to fill. Something that we’re doing to help is, we’ve reduced our store hours from 8:00 AM till 9:00 PM, and this allows us time to clean the store as well as stock the shelves.
PNow: What are you doing to sort of slow it down? And are you ordering more products than normal? Especially cleaning products: face masks, toilet paper, that kind of thing.
Negrette: We’re seeing the increase in many of our items across the board. In addition to ways to mitigate it, we’ve also placed limits on high demand items, so that product is available for everyone.
We really need the community’s help with all of this, so what we’re asking our customers and our community is to shop only for your weekly needs so that products are available for everyone. Right now we’re seeing an influx of shopping. So people are shopping for more than what their weekly needs are.
If we can get customers to shop only for their weekly needs, that’ll help us get caught up. It helps, you know, replenish the shelves and um, it allows there to be product for everybody in the community.
PNow: Do you find this to be true in the grocery market in general? I mean, are other stores that you know of having the same issues?
Negrette: We’re finding that yes, several stores are having the same issues. It’s an uncertain time and people are panicking and what we really want them to do is just slow down, relax, remain calm and know that inventory is going to be replenished. So as long as the community can remain calm, it’ll help us replenish our inventory and get things stocked and ensure that there is a safe shopping environment for everybody.
PNow: Are you also limiting how many people could come in the store at one time?
Negrette: There’s not a specific limit, but depending on the store, each store manager is evaluating it and they are doing some limits, but it’s on a case by case.
PNow: Anything else you’d like the public to know, or anything else that you’re doing to help sort of at least slow down the run on products?
Negrette: Something we’d like the community to know is our pricing process has not changed and price gouging is unethical and it’s illegal. So we want the community to know that we haven’t made any major changes to the way that we do pricing. And I think that’s important because we’re seeing things through different media outlets that, we want to ensure that customers don’t feel like anybody’s taking advantage of them. We’re here to support the community and we’re here to provide a safe shopping experience for everyone.
PNow: So we can all depend on the shelves to get restocked in a timely manner? We just have to sort of sit back and wait a little bit. Right?
Negrette: Yes. As long as, I mean, if we can slow down a little bit as a community and as far as purchasing, if we can stick to shopping only for our weekly needs, the product is available. There are trucks constantly coming in, shelves are constantly being stocked and so we want to ensure the community that we are here and we will remain open as long as we can provide a safe shopping experience for them.
PNow: It’s an amazing time isn’t it?
Negrette: It’s definitely unprecedented. That’s for sure. But I think as long as we can, we can let the community know how they can help, it will help create a sense of calmness and create less panic because it’s really a team effort. We’re all in this together.