Grocers in the Valley region are beginning to see a return to regular operations after being hammered in recent weeks by huge crowds and product sellouts prompted by the coronavirus scare.
“Things are starting to normalize again,” a representative from a Ralphs location in Van Nuys told the Business Journal. “Slowly but surely.”
He said high-demand products such as toilet paper and other necessities aren’t getting cleared out immediately like they were in recent weeks, and posited that the wave of panic shopping and hoarding has waned.
Indeed, area shoppers in the last couple of days have reported that lines at groceries have disappeared or are shorter and bare shelves are less common, although most stores still have reduced hours of operation.
Ralphs stores are prioritizing 65-and-older shoppers by allowing them to enter at 7 a.m., a half hour earlier than others. Ralphs stores are still closing at 8 p.m. and limiting the number of customers allowed to enter a store at one time when crowds form. The Van Nuys rep, who is not allowed by company policy to provide his name, said the brand would continue with these measures as long as the outbreak persists.
A manager of a Vons location in Chatsworth said crowds at his store are also beginning to shrink. He agreed that the worst of the hoarding has subsided but added that toilet paper is still flying off the shelves.
Not all groceries are seeing a return to normalcy.
Handy Market, an independent grocer and gourmet butchery on Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank, announced on Monday it would temporarily close its storefront and move to an online ordering model with curbside pick-up or delivery options for shoppers. A statement on the store’s website says the online-only shift, made in an abundance of caution, will last until the “COVID-19 crisis passes.”