CHICAGO — As the COVID-19 outbreak increasingly affects the convenience-store, fuel and foodservice industries, several c-store chains have released plans of action to combat the spread of the coronavirus in their retail outlets.
As of March 13, at posting time, Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the spread of the virus on its own dashboard, showed 1,701 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, with 40 people having died from the virus.
- For additional daily updates on the coronavirus, click here to view the World Health Organization COVID-19 Situation Dashboard and click here to view the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Situation Summary.
Some retailers have sent hand sanitizer to their stores to use at touch points, including at the registers, in restrooms, at coffee bars and at the pumps.
“We’re treating the coronavirus like a snowstorm,” one retailer who requested anonymity told CSP Daily News. “You never know if it’s going to snow 3 inches or 2 feet, so you’ve got to approach things with the worst-case scenario in mind. We're not panicking. We're just doing what we call good common-sense retail management.”
Here’s what c-store chains are doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their stores …
Casey's General Stores
Casey’s General Stores has dedicated an internal task force to monitor the spread of and to create response plans to the COVID-19 outbreak, the company said in a statement. Specifically, Casey’s has increased its capacity for cleaning food prep equipment, countertops, restrooms, fuel pumps and other high-touch surfaces in its stores. Moreover, the chain has temporarily discontinued refillable mugs and cups and replaced them with disposable options.
- Casey's, with headquarters in Ankeny, Iowa, operates more than 2,000 c-stores in 16 states. It is No. 4 in CSP’s Top 40 Update of its 2019 Top 202 ranking of c-store chains by number of retail outlets.
“First, and most important, the health and well-being of our people and communities is a priority,” said Darren Rebelez, president and CEO of Casey’s General Stores. “We are making decisions with this in mind while continuing our mission of being here for guests.”
Casey’s stores will remain open during this time, the company said. The chain has also promoted frequent handwashing and has encouraged its employees to stay home if they are ill.
Wawa has enhanced its paid-time-off (PTO) policies to provide more flexibility and support to its employees during the crisis. Also, the chain has increased the frequency of cleaning high-touch surfaces, is providing hand sanitizer for associates and customers and has strengthened its supply chain to ensure its stores remain stocked.
- Wawa, Pa.-based Wawa operates nearly 900 c-stores in seven states. It is No. 10 in CSP’s Top 40 Update of its 2019 Top 202 ranking of c-store chains by number of retail outlets.
“Since the beginning of this COVID-19 impact, our teams have been working around the clock to make sure that every one of our stores is stocked, sanitized and staffed," said Chris Gheysens, president and CEO of Wawa, in a statement. “We have remained in contact with state and local health agencies to monitor developments and receive guidance.”
Wawa’s existing partnership with the Red Cross has allowed it to provide customers and employees with health and safety tips to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Wawa has made tip sheets available both online and in its stores.
Stewart’s Shops Corp. is focusing on proper sanitation and hygiene practices to fight the threat, including diligent handwashing for at least 20 seconds, food prep and customer area surface sanitation, and consistent restroom cleaning. The company said it regularly sanitizes PIN pads, door handles, coffee pot handles and other high-touch areas.
- Ballston Spa, N.Y.-based Stewart’s has more than 330 stores in upstate New York and southwestern Vermont.The company is No. 24 in CSP’sTop 40 Update of its 2019 Top 202 ranking of c-store chains by number of retail locations.
“Our top priority at this point is keeping our customers and partners healthy and safe,” the company said in a statement. “Please be assured we are closely monitoring and following the preventive recommendations outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Stewart’s has encouraged customers and partners to stay home if sick.
QuickChek Corp. has elevated its cleaning schedule to combat the coronavirus. Specifically, the chain is focusing on disinfecting all doorknobs, handles, surfaces and restrooms, as well as sanitizing high touch points such as self-checkout machines, instant lottery machines and food and beverage equipment. QuickChek has also discontinued food sampling for the time being.
- Whitehouse Station, N.Y.-based QuickChek operates 160 stores in New Jersey and New York. It is No. 39 in CSP’s Top 40 Update of its 2019 Top 202 ranking of c-store chains by number of retail outlets.
QuickChek stores will remain open, the company said.
“As we continue to monitor the impact of the corona virus (COVID-19), the health and well-being of our customers, employees and our community remains our top priority,” Dean Durling, president and CEO of QuickChek, said in a statement. “During this time, we feel it is important to share with you the steps that QuickChek is taking to ensure that we maintain the highest standards of maintaining a healthy environment. We also want to ensure you that we are continually monitoring COVID-19 and are adhering to the advice and protocols set by the CDC and local health officials.”
QuickChek has encouraged its staff, vendors and customers to wash their hands as often as possible and to stay home if they’re feeling ill.
- Stillwater, Okla.-based OnCue Express, a division of OnCue Marketing LLC operates more than 70 convenience stores in Oklahoma and one in Kansas. The company ranked No. 95 in CSP's 2019 Top 202 ranking of c-store chains by number of retail locations.
“As a precaution, we are temporarily pausing the use of reusable cups,” the company said. “We do not currently have any problems, and we are doing everything we can to keep it that way. Thanks for your assistance in helping us maintain a healthy and clean environment for all.”