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Kroger: One-time bonus for workers during crisis

Instacart plans to bring on 300,000 new personal shoppers over the next 3 months

Canada: Sobeys to install plexiglass barriers at checkouts as grocers work to stay open amid coronavirus outbreak
Sobeys parent company Empire Co. Ltd. has ordered thousands of plexiglass screens to be installed at store checkouts in an effort to provide some separation between staff and customers. The new screens will be accompanied by stickers on the floor with footprints on them leading to the checkouts and instructing customers to stay two metres apart while lining up. Empire’s plan is just one example of how grocery retailers are working to implement social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Amazon raises overtime pay for warehouse workers Inc said it is raising overtime pay for associates working in its U.S. warehouses as the world’s largest online retailer tries to meet the rapidly growing demand for online shopping from consumers stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, also said: “My own time and thinking is now wholly focused on COVID-19 and on how Amazon can best play its role”, according to a message posted on a company website. Hourly workers at Amazon’s U.S. warehouses will receive double pay after 40 hours for overtime, up from the 1.5-times rate, from March 15 through May 9, the rate increase announcement said.

US: Dollar Tree, Family Dollar want 25K more associates
Dollar Tree Inc. plans to increase its workforce by more than 10%, hoping to hire 25,000 full- and part-time associates in the United States as demand skyrockets due to COVID-19. Open positions include managers, cashiers and stockers in the 15,000 Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores, and fillers, equipment operators and warehouse associates at the company's 24 distribution centers. “During this unprecedented time, our Company is seeking 25,000 motivated individuals to support our stores and distribution centers as we provide essential products at great values to the communities we serve”, stated Betty Click, Dollar Tree's chief human resources officer. “Whether you are home unexpectedly or are just starting your career, we have a broad range of positions to fit your needs and availability”.

US: Instacart announces plans to bring on 300,000 new personal shoppers over the next 3 months
Instacart, the North American leader in online grocery delivery, announced plans to bring on an additional 300,000 full-service shoppers over the next 3 months to meet the growing customer demand for grocery delivery and pickup in North America. Instacart has become an essential service for millions of customers who are relying on the platform to get access to the groceries and household goods they need in a safe, reliable and affordable way. In the last few weeks, the company has seen order volume grow by more than 150% year-over-year, with average customer basket size also increasing by 15%. By more than doubling the size of its full-service shopper community, Instacart will be better positioned to meet this increase in customer demand across North America.

US: Kroger rewards workers during crisis
The Kroger Co. is joining other food retailers in showing some financial appreciation for its employees working hard during the COVID-19 outbreak. The company said that it will provide a one-time bonus to every hourly front-line grocery, supply chain, manufacturing and customer service associate who has worked during the coronavirus pandemic. Kroger is giving full-time workers a bonus of $300, and part-time workers will get $150. The grocer has also expanded its coronavirus-related emergency leave guidelines to include paid time off for workers experiencing symptoms that are verified by a medical professional, and for self-isolation. Workers will receive their standard pay for up to two weeks.

Walmart's Mexico unit pulls elderly workers from checkouts on coronavirus concerns
Grocers including Walmart de Mexico have begun bowing to pressure to pull from stores tens of thousands of elderly workers who pack bags at checkouts as concerns grow about their vulnerability to coronavirus amid panic buying nationwide. Some 35,000 elderly Mexicans, most between 60 and 74 years old, pack groceries at Walmart stores and other chains through a government-backed volunteer program, earning just tips. The program, already criticized by labor activists, is under renewed scrutiny as fears about coronavirus have prompted many Mexicans to self-isolate and work from home.

How Alibaba's Freshippo adapted to keep delivering in virus-hit China
As people in China retreated indoors in late January to avoid the coronavirus, Alibaba’s supermarket chain Freshippo faced a dilemma: online orders for fruit were soaring but supplies were low. To ease the crunch, Freshippo asked staff to rip up bulk fruit boxes, originally prepared as Lunar New Year gift sets, break them up and sell them individually to serve more locked-down customers. Freshippo, which has about 200 stores across the country and is known as Hema in Chinese, also launched a group-buying scheme for locked-down Wuhan - the epicenter of the outbreak. The company then delivered goods via commissioned buses instead of its usual bike-riding couriers, who deliver individual bags of groceries.

UK: Morrisons, Iceland, Sainsbury’s and Aldi to put up checkout screens to protect staff
Morrisons, Iceland, Sainsbury’s and Aldi are to install thousands of protective screens at checkouts to keep staff safe as concerns grow about their wellbeing while dealing with hundreds of customers a day during the coronavirus outbreak. Several retailers have asked shoppers to keep at least a metre (3ft) away from staff at tills, but some shop workers have said on social media that they have not been allowed to wear protection such as masks. The general secretary of the shop workers’ union Usdaw, Paddy Lillis, said: “We have increasing concerns about the safety and welfare of staff in stores. The scenes in stores over the weekend and behaviour of some customers mean that supermarkets need to go further to protect the health, safety and welfare of shop workers”.

UK: Spar convenience stores see huge spike in demand
Spar stores across the UK are facing a huge spike on consumer demand, with the wholesalers who supply them saying they have seen orders jump by up to 200% in ambient, fresh and frozen foods. The group, which has 2,600 outlets across the country - 1,459 of them independently owned - says stores are meeting exceptional customer demand by maintaining a high level of stock availability and service throughout the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Louise Hoste, Spar UK managing director said: “Our Spar stores are open, the shelves are stocked and we are meeting demand. We are urging the general public to shop local, little and often. We have a very good supply of food, drink or non-food essentials and as long as people do not panic-buy, we can continue to meet the needs of local communities”.

Exclusive: to stop shipping non-essentials to consumers in Italy and France will stop shipping non-essential products to consumers in Italy and France, the company said, representing an escalation in the e-commerce giant’s response in regions hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak. An Amazon spokesman said the company made the decision due to a spike in orders and the need to respect anti-coronavirus safety measures in the workplaces. “We will temporarily stop taking orders on some non-essential products on and,” said in a statement. “This lets fulfillment center associates focus on receiving and shipping the products customers need most at this time”.

Aldi, McDonald’s make staff-sharing deal in Germany
As the coronavirus crisis overwhelms the food retail sector and devastates its counterparts in foodservice, a unique solution is taking shape in Germany, where grocery chains Aldi Sud and Aldi Nord have signed an agreement with McDonald’s Germany that will refer workers from the burger chain to retailer’s stores “quickly and unbureaucratically”, according to a release from the companies. The partnership will help Aldi stores manage massive demand for at-home food arising from the pandemic while redeploying a restaurant workforce affected by closings and locations with restricted operations. Under the agreement, McDonald’s employees are specifically referred to Aldi and used there as required on a temporary basis and can return to the fast food restaurant after the assignment. McDonald’s operates nearly 1,500 outlets in Germany. Aldi is the one of that country’s largest grocers, doing more than $30bln of sales between its separate Aldi Nord and Aldi Sud companies in their home country.

Australia: ACCC allows supermarkets to work together to overcome supply issues
The nation’s biggest supermarkets have been granted permission by the ACCC to work together to ensure the fair distribution of groceries given unprecedented demand by consumers in recent weeks. Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and Metcash can now coordinate with each other when working with manufacturers, suppliers, and transport and logistics providers but will not be allowed to agree on retail prices for products. The ACCC’s interim authorisation allows supermarkets to temporarily side step competition rules, which exist to prevent market collusion, to ensure consumers have “reliable and fair access” to groceries during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Australia’s supermarkets have experienced unprecedented demand for groceries in recent weeks, both in store and online, which has led to shortages of some products and disruption to delivery services”, ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

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