Supermarkets Cut Hours, Services as Omicron Infects Workers

Some grocers tap corporate employees, use temporary employment agencies to keep stores open



January 13, 2022


According to chief executive Steve Leonard Jr., seven-store supermarket chain Steve Leonard’s was getting back to normalcy before the Omicron version came to the US Northeast. In-store customer traffic was rising, curbside pickup and home-delivery orders declined, food samples returned to stores and buffets reopened, he said.


The chain, which runs locations in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, has reached a 90% employee-vaccination rate, Leonard said. But Covid-19 cases spiked over the past month: A week before Christmas, about 30 of Steve Leonard’s 3,000 employees were in quarantine or isolation, according to the CEO. As of December 26, it was 100, and last Thursday, the company was laying off more than 200 employees for further exposure to COVID-19.


“We feel like we have to bow down for the second round,” said Mr Leonard.


Giant Eagle Inc. has refrained from closing any of its nearly 470 stores during the Omicron boom and has moved from its corporate office near Pittsburgh to help employees fill in supermarkets, according to the company’s chief compliance officer, Vic Verkammann. sent to the one who leads it. pandemic response. He said that the regional grocery chain has seen a rise in employee COVID-19 cases which reflects the case count of the area.


At Piggly Wiggly stores in Alabama and Georgia, managers are supervising workers under the assumption that some employees aren’t going to make it, said Keith Milligan, controller of the 17-store chain. The company, which is a franchise of New Hampshire-based Piggly Wiggly LLC, also hired people from temp agencies to work in its warehouses that receive and store products before they reach store shelves.


Supermarkets are struggling to hire and retain workers during the pandemic. Executives have said...