Empty shelves and long lines have become the new reality faced at grocery stores across the nation. COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 12, 2020, which subsequently sent panic buyers into a frenzy. On Friday the 13th, an already superstitious calendar day, photos of hand sanitizer, fresh produce and other essential items being bought in bulk surfaced online. Toilet paper became as precious as gold overnight.
While many head to the stores to stock up, others like junior Madison Isom are clocking into work to counter the panic-buying. ISOM has been an employee of HEB on 1463 and 1093 for 10 months now. She describes working at the popular Texas grocery chain as “super laid back.” However during this pandemic, one can assume that has changed.
“I would describe the overall atmosphere of HEB right now as very hectic, but under control,” said Isom.
Across the nation, the role of grocery store workers has dramatically changed. Due to fear of what the future may hold with this pandemic, shoppers are coming in large numbers and have been buying significantly more than usual.
“Working during the coronavirus has been a rollercoaster. I have never seen the store with so many empty shelves and full of so many people,” said Isom.
HEB has also shortened their operating hours, had to call more people in, and limit shoppers on how many items they are buying. The store is also working to protect employees from getting the highly contagious and potentially fatal disease.
“Extra hand sanitizer bottles have been placed along with our normal ones by the cashier to ensure we are keeping our hands clean,” Isom said. “Recently they have put up a clear shield in front of the cashiers to protect them when coming face to face with customers.”
With the fear of a possible national quarantine, Americans are stocking up on food, water, and cleaning supplies. Despite this, Isom ensures that HEB is doing everything they can during this hard time.
“HEB employees have been restocking throughout the day and night, staying late hours and coming early to make sure shoppers have a chance to get the important grocery items that have been sold out,” said Isom. “They have also added more wipes in front of the doors for customers to wipe down their buggies.”