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The pandemic has affected grocery staffing. Which Triangle grocers have reduced hours?

·4 min read

Employers all over are struggling to fill jobs as the pandemic continues, and rising COVID-19 cases stemming from the contagious delta variant means higher risk for grocery store employees.

That means a smaller pool of available workers — cashiers, shelf-stockers and those who make the place run. And that translates to reduced hours for some grocers, including in the Triangle.

This week, Harris Teeter, the Matthews-based grocer, announced that it will temporarily shorten all store operating hours until further notice.

The News & Observer surveyed grocers in the Triangle to find out which have or have not altered their schedules.

This list will be updated.

Harris Teeter

As one of the principal grocers in the Carolinas, the Matthews-based company said all store operating hours will be from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. until further notice. The new hours go into effect Sept. 15.

Some amenities will stop at 7 p.m. The service counter and meat and fish counters will close at 8 p.m., according to the company.

Harris Teeter previously closed most stores at 10 or 11 p.m. The company had already ended their 24-hour operating hours at select locations in North Carolina before the pandemic.

“We believe closing our stores earlier will allow our valued associates to: take their earned days off; efficiently process ExpressLane orders; manage labor in this difficult employment environment; ensure excellent closings to better prepare for the following day; and make certain that our stores are a clean, safe place to work and shop,” company spokesperson Danna Robinson said in a statement to The N&O.

Robinson told The Charlotte Observer on Tuesday that Harris Teeter closing earlier will help “manage labor in this difficult employment environment.”

Publix

A spokesman for Publix confirmed that only some of its stores have reduced their hours and are closing an hour earlier than usual at 9 p.m.

“At Publix, we routinely evaluate our business operations, including business operating hours, to effectively and efficiently meet the needs of our customers,” said spokesman Jared Glover in an emailed statement.

Glover did not provide a list of these stores but said that shoppers can check the Publix website for local store hours.

“Over the course of the pandemic, customer shopping habits have evolved. Based on these evolutions, we have modified store hours at select locations to reflect our current state. If customer shopping patterns shift, we will re-evaluate our operating hours.”

The Florida-based grocer currently operates eight stores in Wake, Durham and Johnston counties, including one in Downtown Raleigh.

Food Lion

The long-running Southeast grocer, often a more affordable alternative to other stores, doesn’t currently have plans to reduce their hours, a spokesperson told The N&O in a statement.

Hours differ by location, but most locations close at 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. with a few closing at 9 p.m. or midnight.

Trader Joe’s

A spokeswoman for the private-label grocer with locations in Wake and Orange Counties said it’s “business as usual” and no stores have reduced their hours.

Trader Joe’s stores are open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Lidl

Lidl won’t adjust or reduce its store hours in North Carolina, a spokeswoman for their American stores said. Spokeswoman Chandler Ebeier said Lidl is trying to prevent anything that would lead the store to do so.

“I can tell you that we are fully staffed and operating full hours at every location,” Ebeier said. “The average Lidl U.S. part-time employee works about 30 hours a week, and the average full-time employee works just over 40.”

There are six locations in Wake County. Hours differ by location, but most stores close at 9 or 10 p.m.

“We are proud to support all team members with a highly competitive wage and benefits package that includes healthcare and paid time-off benefits for all full- and part-time employees. We know that a well-supported team is always a prerequisite for well-supported customers.”

Wegmans

The popular New York-based grocer with four locations in the Triangle isn’t changing hours and will continue to stay open until midnight.

“Our current hours of operation are 6 a.m. to midnight. We have no plans to change our hours at this time,” spokeswoman Laura Camera said in an email.

Lowes Foods

Lowes Foods, with several locations in the Triangle, doesn’t have plans to reduce hours, a spokesperson said in a statement.

“We do from time to time make changes on a store by store basis,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

Lowes did not specify which stores in the area would have hour changes, if any.

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