It's now or never for stocking up on groceries before the storm as a number of stores in the area have announced early closures.
Of the 1,353 Publix stores in Florida, 180 have modified hours ahead of Hurricane Idalia, the majority of which are within the Business Observer’s coverage area.
According to its website, the stores are closing at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The expected reopening times varied between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 30, though it seems the majority of stores in the coverage area expect to be open by 9 a.m.
Walmart is also starting to close stores. As of 5:30 p.m., 31 stores and Sam's Clubs, a Walmart affiliate, had closed.
"For us, our biggest thing is making sure our associates are safe," Robert Arrieta, a company spokesperson, says. "That’s what goes into the decision for closing stores."
To prepare for the storm, Arrieta says, Walmart leadership teams talk to associates about estimate timelines on when they will be sent home and provide information about evacuation assistance. The company also uses the Mark Me Safe application on social media, he says, for welfare checks.
The solid waste team has been busy opening the company's trash compactors so they can be flushed out and ready to use post-storm.
Walmart has sent 300 refrigerated trailers to the path of the storm to help with post-storm efforts. And as preparation for the hurricane, Arrieta says 175 facilities have pad-mounted generators to get power back to those stores quickly if there are outages.
The company has also been trying to stay ahead with stocking bottled water with 53,000 pallets of bottled water being sent to stores.
“We know how quickly those things can disappear off shelves," he says.
Winn-Dixie has also updated its website to reflect that about 116 stores in the state will close early on Tuesday. Those closures ranges between 4-8 p.m. No reopening time or date had been announced.
Aldi's website shows that its 28 stores stretching from Spring Hill south to Port Charlotte closed early Tuesday and are scheduled to reopen Wednesday morning. A spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.