CHICAGO — When CSP Daily News asked convenience-store operators if they had taken any precautions at their store or company against the coronavirus, nearly 70% said yes and indicated they had a specific coronavirus plan in place.
And nearly all respondents (94%) said they were very or semi-concerned about the COVID-19 outbreak affecting their business.
The results are based on the responses of about 160 online survey participants between March 23 and 25—a stark contrast to a Feb. 28 poll in which nearly half (46%) of c-store retailers said they were not yet concerned about COVID-19.
Since then, c-stores have been deemed essential businesses in some states where on-premise dining has been restricted, and many have halted self-serve food and beverages. As of March 26, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported 68,440 U.S cases of COVID-19 and 994 deaths caused by the virus.
C-stores have faced challenges with staffing, keeping shelves stocked, keeping up with disinfecting and dealing with panicking customers, according to the survey. Nearly all respondents (94%) said they wipe down surfaces more frequently with disinfectant to combat the coronavirus. Sixty-three percent said they had installed hand sanitizing stations, 61% have altered foodservice programs, 29% have reduced staff and 6% have temporarily closed their store.
When retailers were asked which categories were dramatically up in dollar sales amid the outbreak, and able to choose all options that applied, the top answers were tobacco (56%), packaged beverages (54%), packaged snacks (38%) and HBC (27%). Fuel (61%), foodservice (65%) and dispensed beverages (54%) were the top categories picked when retailers were asked which categories were dramatically down in dollar sales.
COVID-19 has affected c-stores' human resources initiatives, too.
When operators were asked what HR initiatives their company put in place due to the coronavirus outbreak, and were able to select all that applied, 51% said flexible scheduling, 50% said require or allow office staff to work from home, 35% said paid sick leave, 28% said unpaid leave and 23% said there have been no changes.