HAUGHTON, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Grocery stores are still serving customers as essential businesses during the coronavirus crisis.
Most chains are also now offering shoppers the option to order online and pick up their items curbside. The increase in demand for the service has one chain working in overdrive to adapt to the new normal.
The full parking lot outside Brookshire’s is a familiar sight right now, with people stocking up to prepare to stay at home.
But, despite how it looks, a growing number of shoppers are staying out of the store and away from the front checkout lines.
“Now, we’ve kind of seen a shift into our online business and that’s where a lot of our hiring, our staffing is going to, now,” said Jay Holmes, district manager.
Because of health and safety concerns, grocery shopping habits for a lot of folks have changed. To help maintain social distancing and reduce their exposure to germs, more people are using an online shopping cart and having their purchases delivered to them in the parking lot.
Personal shoppers hand select and scan each ordered item and contact the customer if it’s out of stock.
When the customer arrives, they then deliver and load the groceries in the customer’s vehicle.
“I’m considered as a congestive heart failure patient, so I gotta be very careful around the virus,” said Buddy Rice, “so I try to use curbside. In fact, I try not to go in the stores.”
Four slots are available per hour-long window to pick up orders, but because of demand windows are a ways out.
“We’re booked just about every store seven days out,” said Holmes. “They’re full. And, usually that’s where when you go on and order, you’re booking five, six, seven days out right now, versus those as little as two hours.”
The store is working to add slots and streamline processes to serve more customers curbside.
Because more people are spending more time at home, the curbside shoppers say baking mixes are some of the most popular items being purchased.
Along with household items and cleaners, which are still tough to keep on the shelves.
The personal shoppers stay in constant contact with customers, getting the items they need, to give people extra time at home with family.
“What we’ve seen is the average basket through curbside, through online shopping is much greater than the average basket inside the store,” said Holmes.
Brookshire’s is currently offering its curbside service for free. Additional pick-up windows from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. will be available beginning Saturday.