Senior shoppers say they appreciate hour of their own to shop at local grocery stores

Some concerns about crowding at certain stores

A sign on the door at City Market in Carbondale explains the set-aside time for people age 60 and up to do their shopping. City Market stores have established 7-8 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday for seniors.
John Stroud/Post Independent

Senior shopping hour at the Carbondale City Market grocery store Monday was a little like “senior social hour,” in the words of shopper Carol Walsh.

“I knew about everybody in there,” she said. “I didn’t quite find everything I needed … but, thank you, City Market.”

Other shoppers age 60+ said they, too, were appreciative of the hour from 7-8 a.m. that King Soopers/City Market set aside three days a week — Monday, Wednesday and Friday — for seniors to do their shopping ahead of others during the heightened public health alert related to the coronavirus.  

“I appreciate the hours,” said Carbondale resident Joe Markham, who added he did find what he was looking for.

“When you have parsnips and pea pods on your list, there’s usually some for you,” he quipped.

“I’m 67-½,” pointed out Michael Adams as he loaded groceries into his vehicle, adding that most everybody in the store seemed to be “of age.”

“Most of the basics are there — you know, milk, bread, eggs, stuff like that. They’re a little short in the meat department, and the potatoes are gone,” Adams said.

City Market’s parent corporation implemented the seniors-only hours in response to customers who asked that seniors, who are said to be at higher risk for the coronavirus, be given priority during certain hours without a lot of interaction with the general population.

Other national retail and grocery chains around the country have also adopted senior shopping hours, including Albertsons/Safeway, Target, Whole Foods and Dollar General stores.

While the dedicated senior hours work at some of the smaller stores, there were anecdotes indicating overcrowding at larger stores in the area and in communities where there’s a higher concentration of senior citizens. 

That raises concerns about the most at-risk population being able to maintain “social distancing” precautions, especially in check-out lines and tight aisles.

Measures are in place to try to maintain a safe and healthy shopping environment, King Soopers/City Market spokesperson Jessica Trowbridge said Friday, the first day the senior hours were in place.

“We are following guidance from federal, state and local agencies, including the CDC and other health organizations,” she said in a statement. 

That includes cleaning commonly used areas more often, such as cashier stations, self-checkouts, credit card terminals, conveyor belts and food service counters, she said.

“We’ve also directed stores to clean shelves when restocking products and, as always, following food safety best practices,” Trowbridge said. “Additionally, we continue to provide our customers with disinfectant wipes at our store entrances to sanitize their shopping carts or baskets.” 

A sign on the door at the Carbondale City Market also indicated that store personnel may limit the number of people in the store at any given time “in support of social distancing.” 

Shopper Mike Waski said the Carbondale clientele appeared to be playing by the rules for the most part, although he observed a few younger shoppers who slipped in.

“There were a few things missing, but I was in and out very, very quickly,” Waski said. “I can’t believe how many seniors are in this community, it’s just unbelievable … and the young people, hopefully they pay attention.”

Trowbridge maintained that the supply chain is strong, but that shoppers should only purchase what they need as they would during a normal shopping excursion.

“We want to ensure all customers have access to the in-demand products they are looking for when they shop our stores,” she said. “We are working closely with our suppliers to replenish our inventories, and our supply chain teams continue to work to ensure that the food, medicine and cleaning supplies our customers need are reaching our stores as quickly as possible.”

To stay on top of restocking needs, City Market stores did adjust their service hours to 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. Normally, stores open at 6 a.m. and close at 10 p.m., or later in some locations.

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