Sam Burden, an employee in the grocery and bulk sections at Thrifty Foods at the Quadra Street and McKenzie Avenue intersection, stocks the shelves in the back room. (Devon Bidal/Black Press)

SALUTE TO FRONTLINE WORKERS: Business as usual, with the ‘new normal’ in grocery stores

Goal of Thrifty Foods to provide safe environment for staff and customers

The Comox Valley Record has produced a special supplement for its May 20, 2020 print publication, saluting our frontline workers. This is one of the feature articles.


Despite the changes implemented in grocery stores since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Andy Carter always knew his store would be there, providing high-quality services and goods as an essential service.

Carter is the store manager at Thrifty Foods Crown Isle and said his goal – and that of the company – is to ensure they provide a good and safe environment for both customers and staff.

“Our staff is doing well; they are putting themselves at risk every day, but we are all pulling together at Thrifty’s to be able to offer our business as usual, with our new normal.”

With more than 25 years of experience in the grocery industry, Carter notes he has never seen anything similar to this pandemic affecting not only the grocery industry but so many businesses, with such a significant impact.

While there are some challenges as stores adapt, he says customers and employees have handled the changes well. Some of those changes include limiting the number of people in the store at one time, sanitizing carts regularly, installing plastic shields in high-contact areas such as cash registers, and ensuring proper social distancing protocols are being followed throughout the aisles.

“The majority of our customers have been quite respectful and understand – some have even thanked us for what we are doing.”

In terms of employee morale, Carter says staff are handling the stress well and moral is overall pretty good.

“We have an engagement team … that helps make this difficult time a little bit easier for those working. We want to look after people as best as we can, and continue to do what we do as safely and efficiently as we can.”

Carter explains the store is following the provincial and federal government measures in place to protect everyone, and that includes allowing employees to stay at home if they have any cough, cold or flu-like symptoms.

During COVID-19, top-up programs are in place to support employees who are in self-quarantine for two weeks, and for those taking time off work to care for dependents or children.

As the situation evolves, Thrifty Foods is continuing to work to protect the health of employees and customers as well as keeping food on their shelves.

Additionally, while some shoppers may find some shelves empty, the company notes it is receiving regular shipments of supplies to their stores. If a shelf is empty, they ensure it will be full again shortly.

Sobey’s Inc., the parent company of Thrifty Foods, also introduced the Community Action Fund across Canada to find local solutions for their communities’ most urgent needs. According to the company, the individual stores know their communities best, and the program will result in an immediate infusion of millions of dollars into communities across Canada, allowing for quick, direct action.

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