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More than 20 people lined up with carts outside a Bear grocery early Friday to take advantage of time set aside for the store’s most vulnerable customers to shop without crowds.
The shoppers, some wearing masks while others wore surgical gloves, didn’t seem to mind the morning fog or that the sun hadn’t risen as they patiently waited for Eden Square Shopping Center Giant to open just after 6 a.m.
“A lot of times I go to the Walmart, but there’s a lot more people who go there,” said Bob Welch, who was wearing a mask as he waited outside Giant. “So I figured this was safer. Less people.”
Giant stores are one of a number of businesses in Delaware, and across the country, that are dedicating specific time slots or opening earlier for senior shoppers and other at-risk groups.
Albertsons is reserving two hours every Tuesday and Thursday morning for vulnerable shoppers. They include senior citizens, pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems “who have been advised to avoid leaving home as much as possible.” Albertsons’ more than 2,200 stores include Safeway, Acme and Vons.
Giant started its dedicated shopping hour – 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. – on Friday, saying it would happen daily throughout the week.
“We want to make sure that people can get their food, but can also come to our store and feel comfortable and safe,” said Daniel Wolk, a spokesman for Giant. “We’re doing everything we can to clean the store to make sure it’s sanitized.
“We always did that because we’re in the food industry, but we’re doing it extra.”
Part of the reasoning behind choosing early hours is that the business tends to be the most sanitized then, Wolk said.
“I think it’s great,” said Randy Brennan, who wore surgical gloves as she held onto her cart Friday. “I think it would be a nice idea if we could do this forever since it gives us a little chance to walk around and not get knocked over or to be safe and share stories with each other.”
Because of panic shopping, which has left store shelves empty at times, at-risk groups including seniors have had difficulty getting supplies.
Some Giant shoppers said they didn’t find everything they were looking for.
George Sewell’s mission Friday morning was to find bottled water.
“They have single bottles, some of your more exotic waters,” the 60-year-old said. “But they don’t have your store, standard cases of water. I haven’t seen cases of water anywhere.”
He bought a cantaloupe and Ritz crackers. “Just so I wouldn’t waste a trip,” he said.
Designated shopping hours:
Updated grocery store hours, including for seniors, and stores shut down in Delaware
Giant Food joins others in dedicating hours for senior citizens and vulnerable shoppers
Updated hours for grocery stores and convenience stores
Acme: Stores will be reserved for people over 60 every weekday from 7 a.m.-9 a.m. There are 15 Acme locations across Delaware. Stores close at 10 p.m.
Aldi: The discount German grocer is limiting its hours in all stores to 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. Aldi is not reserving a special period for senior shoppers.
Dollar General: The first hour of operation, starting at 8 a.m., is dedicated to senior shoppers. The Tennessee-based chain isn’t specifying a specific age. Dollar General has roughly 50 stores across Delaware.
Food Lion: Food Lion is not reserving a special period for senior shoppers. Its regular hours are 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Giant: The Maryland-based company will reserve 6 a.m.-7 a.m. every day for seniors and those with compromised immune systems. There are six Giant locations in Delaware: on Concord Pike in Talleyville; in Bear’s Eden Square; off Middletown-Warwick Road in Middletown; off Coastal Highway in Rehoboth Beach; on Route 24 in Long Neck; and off Route 26 near Ocean View.
Lidl: There are no special senior shopping hours. The discount German grocer is open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.
Redner’s Warehouse Markets: Those 60 and older, immune-compromised or pregnant can shop at Redner’s exclusively from 6 a.m.-7:30 a.m. daily.
Safeway: Every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 a.m.-9 a.m. is reserved for seniors and other at-risk populations, including pregnant women and others with compromised immune systems. There are Safeways in People’s Plaza in Glasgow, on John Hunn Brown Road in Dover and Coastal Highway in Rehoboth Beach.
ShopRite: ShopRite stores in Delaware will only be open to customers 65 and older and others who are at a high-risk of infection from 6 a.m.-7 a.m. There are six ShopRite stores in Delaware: in Bear’s Governor’s Square, off Route 4 in Brookside, off Route 896 in Glasgow, on Newport Pike in Newport, in the Brandywine Commons off Concord Pike and on South Walnut Street in Wilmington.
Sprouts Farmers Market: The recently Concord Pike store has regular hours from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Target: The first hour of shopping each Wednesday, starting at 8 a.m., is reserved for vulnerable guests, including the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. All stores are closing daily by 9 p.m. Target has stores in the Christiana Mall and the Brandywine Town Center on Concord Pike.
Trader Joe’s: Trader Joe’s on Concord Pike is open from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. until further notice.
Walmart: Starting March 24, Walmart stores will host an hourlong senior shopping event every Tuesday for customers 60 and older beginning an hour before stores open. Store hours are limited to 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Some stores may check IDs, a Walmart representative told USA TODAY.