CHICAGO — The convenience-store industry has rallied around each other to fight the coronavirus. In a matter of days, more than 20 c-store brands have launched emergency action plans (EAPs) and are encouraging customers and employees to practice social distancing and proper sanitation methods.
Here’s the most recent flurry of c-store brands with strategies to combat COVID-19 …
While confronting the coronavirus threat both internally with support staff and in the field among store-level personnel, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., Laval, Quebec, the parent company of Circle K, has the tools to face “financial volatility,” according to its leadership.
Speaking at the company’s March 18 earnings call, Brian Hannasch, president and CEO of the chain, said it has “good cash liquidity, a very healthy balance sheet and solid contingency plans.”
The company sent much of its workforce—payroll, IT, supply-chain ordering and human resources—to work from home. It also issued information for health procedures such as proper hand washing, as well as guidelines for hygiene and cleaning inside stores and at pumps.
For hourly store employees, Couche-Tard instituted an emergency sick care plan to provide workers with some financial relief if they need to stay home because they’re getting tested or if they have been diagnosed with the virus.
Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores
Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores has developed a COVID-19 task force focused on monitoring the virus and providing education, guidance and resources to employees, the company said. Love’s has discontinued self-serve fruit, fountain beverages and roller grill items in Wisconsin and has also converted its deli from self-service to fully staffed in the state.
Love’s has suspended 20 video gaming operations in Illinois and six in Louisiana.
The company has posted an FAQ page on its website answering questions consumers may have regarding sanitation, social distancing and more.
Parkland Fuel Corp. has closed all indoor seating and has shut down its entire foodservice program to combat COVID-19, the company told CSP Daily News. It has required employees to wear protective gloves and has installed hand sanitizer at the register. The company has also increased its cleaning frequency at the gas pumps and inside stores.
Parkland has asked employees who are 65 and older to remain home for two weeks. These workers are still being paid regular wages and are not using PTO during the absence, the company said.
“We wanted to protect them as they are in the age group that is most prone and work in a high-traffic, high-touch environment with customers and cash,” Parkland said.
Thorntons LLC has required exposure and travel reporting from all team members during the COVID-19 outbreak, the company said. Also, Thorntons has temporarily discontinued the use of personal refillable cups and has increased the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing procedures. It has also reinforced proper hand washing to its employees and customers.
Thorntons requests that any team members feeling ill remain at home.
Following its recent plan to focus on sanitation practices and cleaning, Stewart’s Shops Corp. has limited its promotions and product selection to continue offering gasoline and foodservice.
“Our shops receive frequent deliveries, and this helps us remain in stock of the items you need,” the company said. “If we have any disruptions of products, we’re doing our best to work with our vendors to remedy the situation quickly.”
TravelCenters of America
TravelCenters of America (TA), along with its Petro Stopping Centers, has discontinued all food sales—including self-serve items—between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. in Tampa, Fla. Nationwide, the company has closed its buffets and soup and salad bars in its Iron Skillet and Country pride quick-service restaurants. Carryout at all TA-branded QSRs is still available, while dine-in eating has been suspended and refillable mugs have also been discontinued.
The company’s TA Truck Service centers remain open, although its fitness centers and driver lounges have been closed. TA has increased its cleaning frequency for its showers, restrooms, registers, door knobs, tables, menus, chairs, booths, counters and cooking appliances.
The company advises ill employees to remain home.
Pilot Co.’s network of more than 780 travel centers in the United States and Canada remain open, including the use of its laundry, restrooms and showers, it said. The company has closed its self-serve food stations, however, including roller grills and soup stands, and it has made prepackaged deli food available for purchase instead. Dining room seating in Pilot’s travel centers and quick-service restaurants has closed, although takeout from the counter or the drive-thru remains available.
Pilot has also implemented a fresh cup policy: If drivers would like to use their own mug, they must use a new cup to transfer their coffee or fountain drink into their own mug for the price of a refill.
All driver lounges inside the travel centers have closed and gaming rooms have been shut down in Illinois, Nevada and Louisiana.
Pilot has implemented a policy that requires team members to report any illness or symptoms immediately to its leadership team. To encourage self-reporting of illnesses, the company has implemented an emergency sick leave policy.
Murphy USA has increased its cleaning frequency and will provide two weeks of paid leave to employees infected with COVID-19, employees who are caring for an infected family member or employees who are required to self-quarantine, the company said.
Murphy USA has also suspended its refillable mug/cup program.
Yesway has increased its cleaning frequency for counters, equipment, restrooms, door handles and fuel pumps in addition to other high-touch areas throughout its stores and at its Allsup’s brand in the Southwest, the company said. Yesway is also reinforcing proper hand washing and its policy that sick employees must stay home and seek medical attention.
The company has also discontinued the use of refillable mugs until further notice.
Yesway has asked its customers to only buy essential supplies out of support for their neighbors.