Lakeland-based grocer, the state's largest, is working to keep shelves stocked and stores virus free during pandemic.
Publix Super Markets Inc., which operates more than 1,200 stores in Florida and six other Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states, has been working “tirelessly” to boost its strained supply chain amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As stores have run out of paper products and other essentials, Publix officials have engaged additional and new suppliers in an effort to stem the tide of empty shelves.
“We are working with our supplier community to address need and also engaging with new suppliers to meet customers’ demand,” says Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous, in an email. “The supply chain is resilient, and we’re all working together.”
At the same time, the Lakeland-based grocery chain has shifted store hours and provided special shopping experiences for seniors.
To help alleviate the crisis and provide time for deliveries and restocking, Publix during the week of March 16 shifted store hours to open at 8 a.m. with an 8 p.m. closing time.
Publix pharmacies will open at 9 a.m. daily, Monday through Saturday, and close at 6 p.m. Pharmacies will operate on normal business hours on Sundays.
The employee-owned company also instituted special “senior shopping” hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, days in which Publix stores will open at 7 a.m. for patrons 65 years and older, beginning on March 24. Company pharmacies will open at the same time on those days.
Detweiler’s Farm Market, Winn-Dixie, Whole Foods and other grocers also have begun offering special shopping hours for older customers who might be more vulnerable to the coronavirus.
As part of the earlier closing time — most Publix markets typically close at 10 p.m. nightly — employees are conducting “additional preventive sanitation” cleaning throughout the stores.
But for many customers, shortages of essential items such as toilet paper have remained a paramount focus.
Brous says the company is diligently working to meet consumers’ needs through its supply chain.
“Our warehousing and distribution centers are working around the clock to receive product from our suppliers and to ship product to our stores,” she wrote in an email.
“Last week alone, we delivered almost 12,000 truckloads to our stores,” Brous says.
She adds that individual Publix stores may implement purchasing limits on “items that are in high demand.”