By Kennedy Westfall
The COVID-19 pandemic has been trying for most affected individuals. The virus has closed many schools and businesses, cancelled numerous events, and forced some factories to switch from producing typical products to those that are in high demand, such as medical equipment.
Although the virus has led to the closure of some businesses, as well as plenty of layoffs, some “essential” businesses, such as grocery stores, drug stores, hardware stores and restaurants, have stayed open throughout the pandemic. Many of these businesses employ students, creating an unforgettable experience for those working their first part-time job. After interviewing some Snider students, it has become clear just how much the virus has affected businesses.
Grocery stores have been most notably impacted, with customers rushing to hoard materials as if the virus was some sort of zombie apocalypse. News channels and media outlets have detailed this nationwide panic with pictures of empty shelves and overflowing shopping carts.
Junior Micah Hubley, who works at Kroger, said “A lot of people are buying more than they usually would.”
The masses of shoppers have led to health and safety concerns, causing most stores to limit how many customers are allowed inside at any given time. Hubley says “Kroger is limiting the capacity of customers to 50% in the store at one time” to comply with new regulations.
Drug stores have faced similar issues with swarms of customers coming in to buy products they may not be able to find in grocery stores. Senior Lauren Moga, who works at Walgreens, says there is “more demand for cleaning products.”
Hardware stores have also remained open during the lockdown due to their supply of products used in emergency home repairs. However, most customers have been taking the time off to work on home renovations. Senior Dezaray Clawson, who works at Lowe’s, said only “10 to 20 percent” of purchases she has seen could be considered essential.
The warmer weather has been driving people outside, where they work on outdoor projects such as gardening. Clawson said “The growing season is always our best-selling season.”
Senior Sammy Deckard, who works at Umbers/Connolly’s Do it Best, said “We’ve been selling outdoor things like rakes, spreaders and fertilizer like mad.”
Pet stores have stayed open to provide customers with necessities such as pet food or cat litter. Like hardware stores, some people have been taking advantage of the opportunity to buy unnecessary items from pet stores.
Senior Sarah Auer, who works at Pet Supplies Plus, said, “Many moms bring their kids to adopt hamsters, ferrets, fish.”
Restaurants have also continued serving customers. Although many have been forced to shut down their dining rooms, fast food restaurants have kept their drive-throughs and delivery services running. Some have even started using new temporary services to improve guest flow during rushes.
Although these restaurants remain open, many have faced a significant decrease in customers as the lockdown has made many people limit their outings. Part of this decrease is due to the lack of a dine-in option.
Senior Kara Causey, who works at Culver’s, said “We are much slower than usual.”
Some fast food restaurants also use delivery services. Senior Maddy Jarvis, a Dairy Queen employee, said “We also have contracts with Uber Eats and DoorDash for delivery services.”
Even though the drivers for these third-party delivery services don’t work for the restaurants they deliver for, they take many precautions to keep themselves, restaurant employees, and those receiving the food safe and healthy.
Jarvis said, “Most of [the drivers] wear masks and gloves.”
All of the aforementioned businesses have taken on stricter cleaning policies and enforced regular handwashing among employees. Most have installed fiberglass dividers or placed markings that are six feet apart to limit contact between employees and customers. However, even with these precautionary practices, there have been mixed reactions from customers. Causey said Culver’s receives “at least 5-6 critics” per day.
Clawson says that, at Lowe’s, “Customers always either complain we aren’t doing enough to fight the spread of the virus or that we’re doing too much.”
Moga said Walgreens’ customers have been “nicer than usual,” while Hubley says that Kroger’s have been “more rude than usual.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented time for everyone. Even though there is plenty of uncertainty and stress, part-time employees would like to remind customers to continue being respectful; stores are doing everything they can to make the shopping experience safe. If customers have an issue with the way things are being handled within a store, businesses suggest they try to avoid being accusatory, especially towards employees who aren’t managers, as they have little control over the situation.
Most importantly, workers would like to remind their customers to stay safe when going out. A healthy environment cannot be maintained if customers practice unhealthy habits. If customers respect and appreciate workers who are risking their health to serve them, they will respect and appreciate the customers.