Supermarket Employees Anxious About Work

With many other retailers closed, grocery workers are on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak.

March 20, 2020

PHILADELPHIA—Many retailers have either voluntarily shuttered or complied with their state mandate to close because of the coronavirus outbreak. Stark exceptions are supermarkets and convenience stores, among other essential retailers.

Grocery store workers are reporting feeling anxious and stressed about their own health and working in conditions that often include frightened customers and panic-buying, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “People take drugstore and grocery store workers for granted," said Wendell Young, president of Local 1776 Keystone State of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

Some chains have taken steps to protect and help their workers, such as Trader Joe’s, which has extended additional paid sick time to crew members. Whole Foods announced all employees would receive a $2 bump in hourly pay, and all employees could receive up to two weeks of extra pay through this month if diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined. “Your health and well-being remain our top priority,” Whole Foods emailed workers, “and we continue to implement new measures in line with guidance from medical experts and health organizations to ensure the safety of our stores, facilities and offices.”

“People are tense,” Young said. “Maybe they’re scared, and our workers are taking the brunt of it. People are getting in their face about it. ... A lot of people don’t really want to go to work now. This is the worst thing we’ve ever faced in our lifetime.”

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.