Convenience Stores Focus on Safe Store Transactions

Sneeze shields, delivery apps and takeout are in.

March 31, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Across the nation, stores have been implementing social distancing measures in order to keep both their customers and employees safe. 7-Eleven, Wawa and High’s stores are among the stores that have announced extra precautions.

Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven has begun installing plexiglass sneeze guards at the front sales counter in its 9,000-plus locations in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the company announced in a news release.

Installation of two transparent plastic barriers per store has begun in areas hardest hit by the pandemic and will expand to include all U.S. outlets. Installations are expected to be complete in the next two weeks. For convenient customer access, credit card PIN units will be located on the customer-facing side of the sneeze guards.

“We are doing everything we can to keep stores open and stocked with the products local communities need, while also keeping customers safe,” said Joe DePinto, 7‑Eleven president and CEO.  “These new sneeze guards provide additional protection for customers, store associates and franchisees. We are monitoring the changing situation and CDC recommendations and will continue to prioritize the health of our customers, store associates and franchisees across America.”

In addition to the sneeze guards, 7-Eleven has enhanced its standards and procedures for hygiene, handwashing, sanitation, food handling and in-store preparation and increased the frequency of cleaning high-touch surfaces.

A leadership team at the company's Store Support Center is staying up to date with the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines to make the best adjustments to business operations and policies as needed.

For those consumers sheltering in place, 7‑Eleven offers an alternative to in-store shopping with its 7NOW delivery app, which is available to more than 35 million households in 400 cities. Currently, 7‑Eleven is offering free delivery on all 7NOW orders through April 30 when customers apply the promotional code FREE4U at checkout. The app’s "contactless" delivery option lets customers choose to have their delivery left at the door by the driver.

Pennsylvania, based-Wawa said it is installing plastic shields at its checkout counters. “We have already begun asking customers and associates to maintain a distance of 6 ft. from each other inside the store supported through helpful in-store signage, announcements and videos,” Wawa shared with customers. “We are enhancing and reinforcing this effort with visual floor markers to support maintaining a healthy distance and with distancing aids, in the form of clear, plastic shields, at our check-out counters.”  

In Baltimore, Maryland, High’s stores continue providing a clean and safe environment for their customers amid the COVID-19 crisis, the chain said. (High’s was featured in the 2019 Ideas 2 Go.)

“High’s and Carroll Motor Fuels want to assure our customers that we are committed to doing whatever it takes to support our communities. We don’t take lightly the responsibility we have to our customers and our employees. We will get through this as a team and more importantly, as a family,” said John Phelps, president and CEO.

Both organizations are committed to keeping local communities running during the coronavirus pandemic. Carroll Motor Fuels is available 24/7 to provide commercial fuel to all essential businesses in the area, including High’s stores. In addition, several Carroll Motor Fuel drivers are voluntarily picking up shifts to deliver household essentials to keep the shelves stocked at all 49 High’s locations.

High’s has enacted several measures to support associates and customers. Strict procedures are in place to ensure stores are adequately stocked with soap, hand sanitizer, gloves and other sanitation essentials. In addition to increasing the frequency of routine cleaning while sites are open, store hours are being adjusted to allow more time for deep cleaning before and after hours of operation.

In order to limit exposure to high-touch surface areas in the store, High’s has reduced the number of self-serve items in the foodservice area and is offering freshly made options instead. Seating areas are closed in compliance with state guidelines.

High’s has several payment options available to limit customer’s interaction with high-touch surface areas, such as Skip, a self-checkout app that can be used at most locations, and Carroll Pay, which can activate a gas pump and allow customers to pay for merchandise from a mobile phone.

The High’s Operations and Human Resources teams continue seeking new ways to minimize associate risk and provide additional support. This includes implementing a temporary absence policy that lets associates stay home without depleting their available time-off hours. In addition, the company’s employee assistance program provides 24/7 support to all associates.

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.

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