Some of Kroger’s subsidiaries – Harris Teeter, QFC and Fred Meyer – are ending 24-hour service in some cities to allow work crews to clean and restock stores amid the growing coronavirus outbreak.
“We are focused on having clean, open and stocked stores for our customers and some 24-hour store locations are making this decision based on local circumstances,” Kroger officials told The Cincinnati Enquirer, part of the USA TODAY Network, Saturday. “We will continue to make decisions that allow us to operate efficiently to serve our customers and support our associates.”
Kroger is the nation’s largest supermarket chain. Besides Kroger stores, the grocer operates several regional supermarket chains in 35 states, including Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter, Ralphs, Mariano’s, Fry’s, Smith’s, King Soopers, QFC and others.
So far, all QFC stores, based in the Pacific Northwest (Seattle, Oregon), have moved away from open 24 hours. Most Fred Meyer stores in the same region have followed suit. Harris Teeter, based in North Carolina and serving the Southeast from Florida to Washington, D.C., has also opted to close nightly.
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Kroger officials confirmed all stores in Cincinnati would have reduced to 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. starting Monday and until further notice. Decisions on hours are being made by local management, they said.
Kroger’s namesake stores in Houston will also curtail 24-hour service, according to local TV reports by KHOU.
Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen told employees and customers in a letter the grocer is determined to keep stores open, stocked and clean amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“We believe that everyone deserves to have access to fresh, affordable food and essentials, especially in times of uncertainty. That’s why our teams are working so hard,” McMullen said.
To better manage the coronavirus impact in individual markets, Kroger has empowered local managers to limit quantities of high-demand items to avoid potential hoarding or profiteering by third-parties. It has also given local management the discretion to change hours, Kroger said.
Kroger and other supermarkets have seen robust traffic as shoppers have rushed to stock pantries during the outbreak. Kroger was working with its suppliers to promptly restock high-demand items, McMullen said in his letter.
Kroger rival Publix, based in Florida and serving the Southeast, has also has changed its store hours and announced all of its stores will close at 8 p.m. starting Saturday until further notice.
New York-based supermarket chain Wegmans is closing its stores overnight to allow for cleaning and restocking, too.
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, announced late Saturday that starting Sunday it was trimming hours at 24-stores and other locations nationwide.
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Contributing: Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY
For the latest on Kroger, P&G, Fifth Third Bank and Cincinnati business, follow @alexcoolidge on Twitter.
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