Kolby Carignan thought he was being proactive by getting a head start on his weekend grocery trip Friday morning. He headed to the Greenville, South Carolina, Costco 30 minutes before the store opened.
However, “It definitely wasn’t a normal Friday at Costco,” Carignan told the Greenville News Friday afternoon.
A line – almost the length of the store – had formed. Shoppers clutched their carts, waiting for the doors to open.
And once the store opened, people made a beeline for the toiletries section. A huge single-file line formed, and shoppers could barely move, Carignan said.
“People bumping carts into each other, people snarling at each other because somebody else got to the toilet paper, or the water, or the freaking paper towels before them,” Carignan said in a video to his social media followers after finishing his shopping.
Though Carignan said he didn’t see anyone physically assault anyone, he did see two women “passive-aggressively” argue over the last packs of toilet paper.
“I’ve never experienced adults acting like children in a maximum capacity like that,” Carignan said.
This is the scene at many grocery stores across South Carolina and the rest of the country amid the coronavirus outbreak. Here’s what major grocery store chains in upstate South Carolina say they’re doing in response:
- Implemented a “heightened disinfection response program”
- Suspended in-store food demonstrations until further notice
- Applied purchase limits on some key items to allow more customers to get what they need
- Have delivery and curbside pickup options available for customers who want to avoid crowds
- Stores are cleaned daily with “EPA-recommended sanitizing solutions approved for use in mitigating against COVID-19”
- “Working diligently to secure our supply chain and limit impacts on availability to the largest extent possible”
- Modified employee attendance policy and employees are encouraged to stay home if they are sick
- Restructured benefits so employees can get up to two weeks of pay if they have to miss work because they have the virus or are part of a government- or company-instituted quarantine
- Limited non-essential travel for employees
- Focused on keeping water, pantry staples, pre-made meals, cleaning supplies and toilet paper in stock
- Applied purchase limits on some items
- Intensifying sanitizing at stores, warehouses and offices
- Encouraging sick employees to stay home and extended employees’ sick leave policy
- Increased cleaning and dedicated an associate to clean key areas through the day
- “Evaluating whether to modify store hours at some 24-hour facilities to allow for additional cleaning”
- Pursuing an easier way to sanitize shopping carts
- Have plans to use a third-party for sanitization if a location were to be impacted by the virus
- Working to keep stores stocked and prices fair
- Working to replenish paper products and cleaning supplies quickly
- Diverting products to areas of the country where they’re most needed and delivering directly to stores
- Taking a firm stance against third-party sellers price gouging
- Created a new policy with more flexibility on sick days and “pay options and support if they are affected by the virus”
- Have online shopping and pickup options available
- Ensuring CDC-guidelines on cleanliness in stores
- Increased frequency of cleaning in bathrooms, cafes and water fountains
- Wiping down carts with disinfectant after each use
- Posting hand sanitizer at entrances, exits and registers
- Providing employees with up-to-date information
- Working to replenish paper products and cleaning supplies “as fast as humanly possible”
- Have Scan & Go, pickup and delivery options available
- Updating stocking plans each day
- Limiting customers to two items each for household cleaning, first aid, personal cleaning, facial tissues and respiratory care items
Note: Local Costco managers said they were not allowed to speak with media. The Greenville News has left a voicemail with the corporate office.
Follow Greenville News reporter Genna on Twitter @GennaContino.