We are proud to release the digital copy of the AGA COVID-19 Digital Magazine. This special edition of our digital magazine features member inspirational stories, ads from our convention sponsors, a message from our Chairman and President and several articles from writers across the nation. We hope you enjoy this special edition of our digital magazine. We will have printed copies back in a couple weeks and mailing copies to the Legislative Representatives. Thank you to everyone that submitted their stories to add to our magazine. We appreciate everyone that is working so hard on the front lines through this unprecedented times.
This edition features stories on: Legislative Preview, Food Industry Finest Recap, Golf Outing Recap, Rethinking the Form and Shape of Grocery Stores; a message from the Chairman and the President; and several articles from writers across the nation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on the entire grocery industry. It affected the lives of millions of state residents and the grocery community stepped up to ensure that its associates and customers were safe during this crisis. Grocers saw a “new normal” of intermittent out-of-stocks and sporadic customer surges. Despite enormous logistical challenges, our state’s grocery community has worked around the clock to supply food to Alabama families while at the same time implementing new policies of social distancing and safety features for the protection of employees and customers. Grocers have served as the blueprint for the entire state on how to move forward, get back to work and support our state’s economy.
Throughout this ever-changing landscape, each of our companies has leaned heavily on the resources provided by the Alabama Grocers Association. The AGA was on the front line working with state and local agencies and municipalities to work out the complexities of state and local ordinances. In addition, our Association was in constant communication with Governor’s Ivey’s office as well as State Health Officer Scott Harris to ensure that as regulations were occurring, they would not have a negative impact on the grocery industry. In fact, the AGA worked directly with numerous state agencies including the Alabama Department of Public Health, Alabama Department of Agriculture, Alabama WIC, Alabama ABC Board, ALEA, Alabama Attorney General’s Office, ABC Board, Alabama Department of Revenue, Alabama Department of Transportation, Alabama Department of Human Resources and many others. AGA was on the front line of pandemic response to the media doing constant media interviews addressing concerns of pricing and shortages. Our audience numbers reached during the pandemic were over 3 million including a Shop Safe Campaign. The Association sent over 100 emails and alerts during March and April alone and held weekly calls for our members.
Your Association worked hand in hand with national organizations to make sure our members received the most up to date information to keep your businesses running with the most recent guidelines from OSHA, FDA, the CDC and many other organizations. Hosted weekly calls from March through May to answer additional questions from members and made ourselves available to members wherever needed to obtain guidance or help field media questions.
It was vital to our Association that the 2020 Convention be held this year. We were happy that after many discussions we were able to safely hold our first ever Hybrid Event! Thank you to everyone that participated in the convention either virtually or in person and to all the sponsors and advertisers that continued their support of our efforts.
WHAT: The coronavirus has affected the lives of millions of state residents, and every grocery store retailer in Alabama is taking the necessary precautions to keep its associates and customers safe. At the same time, grocers are balancing an unimagined demand for food supplies driven by public fear.
WHO: As an industry, grocery retailers have been adjusting quickly to the new normal of intermittent out-of-stocks and sporadic customer surges; despite enormous logistical challenges, our state’s grocery community has worked around the clock to supply food to Alabama families while at the same time implementing new policies of social distancing and limiting customer density in our stores.
HOW: Alabama Grocers are taking essential steps in working to flatten the COVID-19 curve in each of the communities we serve. These steps start at our front doors and end at the point of checkout and customers leaving our stores.
Below is a sampling of the precautions Alabama grocery retailers have put in place:
Managers along with all store associates are being trained on social distancing techniques and general best health practices.
These communications have become part of daily management routines.
Stores are adhering to national grocery industry COVID-19 guidelines that have been approved by the CDC.
This guidance also includes steps for grocery retailers if store personnel become infected or if a known customer is infected with COVID-19.
Many retailers are providing special hours for older customers and those with weakened immune systems.
Grocers have an infrastructure to provide online fulfillment either at the store level or through a third-party provider, such as Shipt or Instacart. Stores are increasing those capabilities across the state’s entire supply chain, and this is helping reduce the number of customers coming into our stores.
Alabama Grocers have partnered with the Alabama EMA to provide a list of stores that provide these services to distribute to consumers and are encouraging Alabama consumers to minimize their exposure and utilize these services where available.
Grocery stores have closed all in-store cafes and seating areas. These areas are closed in order to prevent customers from gathering and sitting closely to one another.
Many stores are installing clear plastic guards at registers. Because the register area does not allow for the cashier and customer to maintain six feet apart per CDC guidelines, plexiglass guards are being added for additional protection in one the of the most vulnerable areas of the store.
Whenever possible, we are opening only every other register lane to create further distancing between customers at checkout instead of opening lanes right next to each other.
Signage is being placed in stores that reminds customers to stand at least 6 feet apart from others, plus other guidelines from the CDC. Signage is being placed at registers, front doors, deli, pharmacy and other places throughout the store.
Many retailers are now providing tape on the floors at each register so customers understand the 6-foot distance they should keep from others. The length of two standing shopping carts creates a natural spacing for social distancing.
Many stores are requiring those with reusable bags to bag their own groceries to prevent cross contamination. We are reminding customers to wash reusable bags after each use and to store bags in a clean, cool and dry location.
Store associates are wiping down and disinfecting shopping cart handles as often as needed throughout the day.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Grocery retailers are working tirelessly with current suppliers to ensure consumer demands are met at an unusually high rate. In addition, they have been creative at sourcing additional product from non-traditional suppliers to ensure the shelves are stocked as quickly as possible. It is important to note that the grocery retail industry is a very low profit margin and highly competitive business. Consumers can assist us in keeping prices as low as possible for Alabamians by not stockpiling products and utilizing normal shopping habits.