ood City President and CEO Steve Smith told members of the media in a conference call Tuesday that the company is doing everything it can to keep its stores stocked, but there are challenges in the current environment.
However, Smith said that, as the response continues to the COVID-19 virus, that the problem with customers not being able to find certain items at certain times or being limited to a certain quantity of some products is not a problem with the food or product supply, but a function of demand.
“The U.S. will not run out of food, grocers will not run out of food,” Smith said, adding that there is currently the same number of mouths to feed as there was a week ago and there is no identified problem with supply.
If customers would only buy what they needed for a week or so, Smith said, then the supply chain would catch up with the demand.
Manufacturers, Smith said, are also looking at the situation and may be making decisions to reduce the variety of products they produce to focus on producing “core” items, so there may be situations where customers may not be able to find the exact varieties or flavors of certain items, but that the stores are committed to remaining open “seven days a week.”
“You can rest assured you’re going to have groceries to buy when you come into Food City,” Smith said.
He also said Food City is attempting to do everything it can to keep stores stocked with products such as toilet paper, paper towels, sanitizing products and other items that have been in high demand.
Last week, the company announced that it was hiring thousands of more workers and, since then, has hired 1,200 workers at the retail level and 76 at the company’s distribution center, Smith said.
In addition, Smith said, the company is announcing a total of $3 million in bonuses which will be going out to its 16,000 employees in recognition of the work they’ve done in the face of the COVID-19 preparations.
The company, he said, is continuing to monitor the situation and will react as necessary.
“We continue to monitor this evolving situation not daily, but hourly,” he said.
The company has also taken numerous other steps, Smith said, including asking customers to reserve the stores’ opening hour, from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., for seniors. In addition, he said, the company has committed to opening its pharmacies during that same hour on Mondays.
Also, he said Food City’s stores have always been complimented on their cleanliness, but that has been stepped up in response to COVID-19, with Smith saying the stores’ employees are doing “everything possible” to ensure that the stores are sanitary as possible, including shopping carts.