CHICAGO — Convenience retailers have become some of the most important workers on the front lines of the retail response to the coronavirus pandemic. The industry has been designated as essential providers of food, beverages, fuel and other products and services.
The chains are taking action to minimize the danger posed by COVID-19 in their stores and communities by following the cleaning and food safety procedures laid out by health and government officials. Dine-in foodservice has ceased, but the stores remain open.
The employees of these retail outlets, whether they work for a one-store business or a large chain, are among the heroes helping to keep people fed and supplied and the economy moving during this time. Some companies have announced hiring initiatives to keep their stores staffed, and others are rewarding their existing employees with increased compensation and bonuses for their service.
Here are some of the many examples of c-store retailers enhancing their employment offers …
Casey's General Stores
To show appreciation and support for the employees who are on the frontlines of serving local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, Casey’s General Stores Inc. is giving all full-time and part-time store employees an additional $2 per hour during this time.
Stores in many markets are hiring as they remain open to offer customers freshly prepared food, fuel, groceries and household supplies.
“Many communities rely on their local Casey’s for the essentials like groceries, fuel and household items, and our team members are an important part of those communities,” said CEO Darren Rebelez. “We’re giving our team members additional pay, flex time and paid time off because we’re so grateful for their commitment to serving our guests and making our communities better every day.”
To show appreciation for the team’s efforts, Casey’s is offering all full-time and part-time store employees an additional $2 per hour. Managers, supervisors and trainers will receive an additional $100 per week. Casey’s is also offering store employees additional flex time and has implemented an additional paid leave program for team members who are required to quarantine or who test positive for COVID-19 and are unable to work remotely.
Most Casey’s stores will be shifting to be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. to allow more time for cleaning. And many are reserving 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. for shoppers who are at higher risk for illness, including guests over 60, pregnant women or those with underlying health conditions.
“As we face this crisis together, we will continue to make adjustments to our stores in order to create a safer place for both our team members and our guests,” said Rebelez. “We greatly appreciate flexibility and patience as we navigate the changes in our world today so that we can continue to serve our communities through this difficult time.”
- Casey’s is No. 4on 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.
Ankeny, Iowa-based Casey’s has approximately 2,200 c-stores 16 states.
Enmarket has committed to raising pay rates for all nonsalaried store employees and guaranteeing bonuses, the c-store retailer has announced.
“Our team members working in stores are going above and beyond to ensure that every Enmarket location is open to the public in this time of need,” said Enmarket President Brett Giesick. “Vehicles are still on the road and drivers need to know that they have convenient access to fuel, fresh food, snacks and beverages. Our store team members are the ones that make this possible. We are extremely proud and appreciative of their dedication, and we want to recognize their efforts.”
Each hourly paid Enmarket employee will receive a one-time check equivalent to $2 per hour for all hours worked from March 26 through April 15. It will include field technicians and other hourly team members who work in the field to support multiple stores. Salaried managers and field support staff are paid out bonuses each quarter. For the months of March and April, Enmarket is guaranteeing a 100% payout of that bonus for all eligible managers and support staff.
Update: Hourly Enmarket employees will receive a one-time check equivalent to $2.50 per hour for all hours worked from March 26 through April 15, the company announced on March 30. This will include field technicians and other hourly team members that work in the field to support multiple stores.
Savannah, Ga.-based Enmarket operates 125 c-stores, 14 quick-service restaurants and a fast-casual restaurant.
Kum & Go
Kum & Go LC said that, effective immediately, it is raising pay for all store associates including general managers by $2 an hour, retroactive to March 16 and until May 3 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company will continue to monitor and review the policy as the situation evolves.
The Des Moines, Iowa-based company, which operates in 11 states, is offering spot bonuses to all associates who lead COVID-19 store sanitation safeguarding; and additional “thank you” bonuses to all general managers and district supervisors.
All store associates will be able to enjoy a free meal during their shift in addition to the everyday discounts offered all employees.
“In these unprecedented, challenging times, our store associates have been on the front lines of this national emergency, embodying our core values every day. In recognition of their significant contributions to keeping our communities fed and fueled at this critical juncture,” Kum & Go Chairman and CEO Kyle Krause said.
“These new policies come alongside our organization’s ongoing commitments to our associates’ health and well-being. Those commitments include 14-day paid leave for all associates needing to self-quarantine, free COVID-19 testing, waived telehealth fees for those on our health plan, our associate loan program and our employee assistance program for mental health support,” he said.
“Our communities depend on our 400 stores for food, fuel and so much more. The commitments we’re making today will ensure our people are able to continue to serve communities in this time of extraordinary need. Nothing is more important than our associates’ health and well-being, and I am proud that we are able to stand by them, their families and the communities we proudly serve today, and always,” Krause.
Kwik Trip is giving its approximately 26,000 employees temporary bonuses for six weeks for continuing to work during the COVID-19 outbreak, it said.
In a letter to employees, CEO Don Zietlow said, “In this critical time, I want you to know how much we appreciate what you are doing to take care of our guests. To show our appreciation, we are making the following adjustments to your wages. For all hours worked March 13 through April 23 in retail, and for all hours worked March 15 through April 25 for the support center, all hourly coworkers will receive an extra $2 an hour for each hour worked. All of our store leaders and drivers will receive an additional $100 per week worked, from March 13 to April 23 for store leaders and from March 15 through April 25 for drivers.”
“Our co-workers are the best asset Kwik Trip has,” he said. “Thank you for all that you do.”
The La Crosse, Wis.-based company has more than 600 Kwik Trip and Kwik Star stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.
In appreciation for their ongoing efforts during the COVID-19 outbreak, Pilot is providing employees with several benefits, it said.
The company, which has about 750 locations, will pay all hourly store employees an additional $2 per hour retroactive to March 19 as "Thank You Pay." This special pay will continue through April 29, and it 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 April 3.
RaceTrac has taken several actions to support employees. In recognition of the value of the RaceTrac team to the operation of its stores, the organization is enacting an immediate $3 per hour temporary pay increase for hourly store employees through April 2020, the company said. Also, salaried employees at stores will receive an additional $150 per week through April 2020.
The company has also initiated a temporary COVID-19 leave policy. It allows team members who test positive or who are required to quarantine due to the illness and cannot work remotely to receive up to two weeks of pay.
“We want to recognize and support our employees who are making sure our guests, especially those on the front lines, are able to get whatever gets them going through a clean, safe and reliable experience,” said Melanie Isbill, chief marketing officer of RaceTrac.
Based in Atlanta, RaceTrac operates more than 550 c-stores in Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Tennessee.
Beginning March 25, Rutter’s gave all employees a temporary $2-per-hour wage increase, the retailer said. Qualified team members include all hourly field store employees, including field and maintenance technicians. Salaried restaurant and store managers will receive a temporary $100 weekly bonus.
The company is offering emergency paid sick leave and extended family and medical emergency leave to its dairy employees in accordance with the Coronavirus Relief Act, which applies to companies with fewer than 500 employees. Although store operations include more than 500 employees, Rutter’s has elected to provide 80 hours of paid time off as of April 2 for any qualified employee who has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
“Due to the uncertainty brought about by this virus, we do not have a time frame for when these benefits will come to an end,” Rutter’s President and CEO Scott Hartman said. “However, we pledge to give all qualified employees at least one-week notice before they are ended. Our firm commitment to our great employees has not and will not waiver during difficult times.”
York, Pa.-based Rutter’s operates more than 70 c-stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia.
Sheetz Inc. has announced extra compensation for its employees. From March 13 to April 23, the retailer will pay its store employees an additional $3 per hour in an effort to continue to support its front-line employees who are working through the COVID-19 crisis.
“Our employees are the heart and soul of Sheetz and their commitment to serve our customers and communities as an essential business during this critical time has been nothing short of extraordinary,” said Travis Sheetz, president and chief operating officer of Sheetz. “This special compensation is just one way to express our gratitude during this difficult time.”
Sheetz is also actively hiring store employees.
Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz operates more than 580 c-stores in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and North Carolina.
VERC Enterprises is helping its nearly 400 employees weather the uncertainty of the economic hardships caused by the coronavirus outbreak with a combination of bonuses and pay increases, it said.
On March 16, the company presented all full-time employees with bonus checks of $500. Its part-time employees each received $200.
On March 23, the company increased the pay of each of its store employees by $2 per hour, while increasing the salaries of each store manager by $100 per week.
“Our employees, or associates, as they are known within our organization, are our most valued asset,” said VERC CEO Leo Vercollone. “This is a time when we want to show them how much we appreciate everything they do.”
The Duxbury, Mass.-based company, which operates approximately 20 c-stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, helps its employees in other ways also, including no-interest loans to associates in need. It’s a practice that the company has had in place for more than 10 years, and Vercollone said he has seen an uptick in requests recently.
Some of the company’s support staff has been working from home during this time, Vercollone said. “But our front-line associates cannot do that. They are there in the stores, so we are doing what we can to reward, support and thank them,” he said.
The chain is also hiring. “We are looking to hire additional associates, so we’re doing everything we can to make VERC Enterprises a preferred choice for the job seekers,” he said.
VERC is a leader in hiring individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and has more than 20% of its workforces composed of intellectually or developmentally disabled citizens. VERC maintains ongoing partnerships with organizations including Best Buddies, ARC of Greater Plymouth and others to provide employment opportunities for disabled individuals. VERC is also working with the state’s Re-Entry program to provide employment opportunities for former inmates who have been rehabilitated.