CHICAGO — As a key provider of food, beverages, fuel and other essential products and services during the COVID-19 pandemic, the convenience-store industry is in good position to serve the communities in which it operates.
Convenience retailers are taking action to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by following the prescribed cleaning and food safety procedures. C-stores in many areas have long functioned as local gathering places for news and information and sites to meet for coffee and human interaction. Although social distancing and dine-in closures have curtailed much of that interaction, the stores—as designated essential businesses—remain open and in need of staff. To that end, many chains have announced hiring initiatives.
Strengthening ties to the community through these hiring initiatives will pay off in goodwill, customer loyalty and traffic when the crisis has abated. The industry will have boosted and enhanced its reputation in the community and the economy.
Here are several examples of c-store retailers seeking to fill coronavirus-related positions …
7‑Eleven Inc. said it expects to hire as many as 20,000 new store employees, either directly or by independent 7-Eleven franchisees, to meet the increased demand for products and services caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The hiring push will “ensure 7-Eleven stores remain clean and in-stock with the goods our customers need during this critical time,” said 7-Eleven President and CEO Joe DePinto.
7-Eleven also expects a surge in mobile orders through its 7Now delivery app, it said. Store employees will also fulfill 7Now delivery orders that include grocery staples such as milk and bread, a range of food and beverage options, over-the-counter medicine and more.
- 7-Eleven is No. 1 on the Top 40 update to CSP’s 2019 Top 202 ranking of U.S. c-store chains by number of retail outlets. CSP will release the complete 2020 list in June.
Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses more than 70,000 stores in 17 countries, including more than 9,350 in the United States.
GPM Investments LLC, which operates and supplies c-stores in 23 states, plans to hire 5,000 associates in its stores during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company announced.
"We are an essential business which will remain open in order to assist our communities, customers and associates,” said Arie Kotler, CEO of GPM. “We operate in a number of small towns, and we recognize many people may be out of work. We realize this is a difficult time, but want to assure people who live in the communities where we operate that we intend to continue operations and can provide employment opportunities for those who have lost their income as a result of the pandemic. We are here to serve our customers, and together, we are working hard to ensure that our friends and families in the communities we serve have the essential items they need to care for their families.”
GPM also will offer incentives to team members that can be used to obtain food, fuel and other essential items. “We continue to evaluate and do what we can to support our existing and new team members,” said Veronica Donchez, senior vice president of human resources.
“I continue to be amazed at the dedication and fortitude of our associates as we navigate this crisis and hope to add many others in need to our team,” Kotler said.
GPM operates or supplies fuel to more than 1,400 stores in 23 states under a portfolio of more than a dozen brands, including Fas Mart and E-Z Mart.
Supermarket company Giant Eagle Inc., which operates the GetGo chain of more than 250 c-stores in six states, will pay out a total of $10 million in bonus pay to eligible employees to recognize their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic, reported The Akron Beacon Journal.
The bonus pay recognizes the work of Giant Eagle, Market District, Giant Eagle Pharmacy and GetGo employees and also workers in warehouses and those who deliver product to stores, the company said.
The bonus pay starts immediately and is retroactive to March 15, the company said. The end date is May 2, although it will be reevaluated in the coming weeks, it said.
“As a company, we must continue to find ways to support our incredibly dedicated team members,” said Laura Shapira Karet, president and CEO of Pittsburgh-based GetGo. “Across all our communities every day, they are working tirelessly to keep families safe, healthy and fed. We cannot thank them enough. They are our heroes.”
Although the COVID-19 outbreak forced Kwik Trip to postpone its chainwide, on-site open interview day, it hasn’t postponed hiring, it said.
“We are looking to hire at least 2,000 co-workers as quickly as we can to help our stores, production facilities and distribution and transportation divisions keep up with the high demand for our products and services,” Recruiting Manager Stephanie Cormican said.
“In addition to year-round and seasonal positions, we understand that individuals may have been displaced due to COVID-19 and are looking for work temporarily until they are able to return to their current employment. The increased volume we are experiencing right now provides an opportunity for those individuals to earn income during this time,” Cormican said.
The company said it is looking for full and part-time co-workers. "[We] understand that this is an uneasy time for individuals and are looking to welcome those individuals with open arms," she said.
The La Crosse, Wis.-based company has more than 600 Kwik Trip and Kwik Star stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.
Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores
Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores said it is giving hourly store employees a pay increase and a bonus in light of the hard work and dedication they have shown to professional truckers during a national emergency. The chain also is hiring nationwide, including at its Oklahoma City corporate headquarters and its more than 510 stores in 41 states.
All hourly store employees will receive a $100 bonus to be paid March 30, the company said. Love’s is also giving a $2 per hour pay increase for all hourly store employees and providing free meals while they work. The pay increases, which also include Speedco and Love’s Truck Care hourly employees, will run through May 1, and the company will evaluate them at that time. All salaried managers will receive their first-quarter bonuses regardless of whether they made their targets, and a month earlier than normal.
Love’s is also offering additional paid sick time in certain situations related to COVID-19. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19 or is ordered quarantined during the crisis by a doctor, they’ll be paid for up to 80 hours of missed time.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government recognized truckstops as an essential business. The company needs dedicated team members to help keep goods moving through important corridors and around the country, it said.
“Unprecedented times means unprecedented measures, and that’s what Love’s is doing as a company,” said Shane Wharton, president of Oklahoma City-based Love’s. “The fantastic work of our store teams deserves to be rewarded. It is our mission to serve those professional drivers who are a part of getting America’s vital goods, including medical and food supplies, delivered throughout the country.”
"As an essential business, we are still hiring and interviewing to keep our facilities staffed and open," said Pilot Co. In appreciation for their ongoing efforts during the COVID-19 outbreak, Pilot is providing employees with several benefits.
The company, which has about 750 locations, will pay all hourly store employees an additional $2 per hour retroactive back to March 19 as "Thank You Pay." This special pay will continue through April 29, and applies to regular hours worked as well as overtime hours.
The company is also offering employees and Pilot fuel drivers a free meal during every shift, up to $10, regardless of shift length.
Pilot has also instituted an emergency pay plan. If an employee is quarantined, he or she will be eligible for up to 14 days of paid time off for recovery. Absences will not be counted, and personal leave will be granted, if needed.
Also, managers eligible for quarterly bonuses are guaranteed 100% payout. The Knoxville, Tenn.-based company said it is expediting first-quarter bonus payments to be paid on April 3.
Thorntons Inc. said it is hiring part-time temporary contingent workers at all of its more than 200 c-stores in six states during the coronavirus pandemic. The chain’s c-stores and fuel pumps remain open to provide basic needs to emergency service providers, healthcare workers and other essential business workers, the Louisville, Ky.-based company said.
Contingent workers will clean, stock shelves and coolers, maintain store standards, assist with other non-register activities and help to create a safe, clean and friendly environment. Part-time temporary schedules are less than 30 hours per week for a defined period of time. Candidates must be 18 or older.
“During these uncertain times, Thorntons is committed to caring for our communities and our people,” said Shelly Gibson, chief legal and people officer. “Our teams are working hard to keep our stores safe and operational, and we need extra help to continue to provide great guest service. At the same time, many people in the communities we serve now face unforeseen circumstances and challenges. We are proud to offer these jobs to help displaced workers supplement their incomes and care for their families.”
Other retail channels are also staffing up.
"We hope people who've been laid off will come to work with us until they're able to go back to the jobs they had,” Jeff Bezos, CEO of Seattle-based Amazon, said on Instagram. “We're hiring for 100,000 new roles and raising wages for our hourly workers who are fulfilling orders and delivering to customers during this period of stress and turmoil."
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart has announced that it is hiring 150,000 full-time, part-time and temporary positions in stores, distribution centers and fulfillment centers.
Dollar General said it plans to “nearly double” its normal hiring rate and add up to 50,000 employees by the end of April because of the coronavirus. “We invite individuals looking to start or grow a career, as well as for those whose job may be temporarily impacted by COVID-19, to apply for opportunities to help further our mission of serving others,” said Kathy Reardon, senior vice president and chief people officer for Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based Dollar General.
Dollar Tree plans to hire 25,000 full- and part-time associates at Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores and distribution centers “during this unprecedented time,” said Betty Click, chief human resources officer for the Chesapeake, Va.-based company.