By Quinn Rafferty
Every morning for the last week there has been a line of customers outside the door at Ingles waiting for the 6 a.m. opening.
On Tuesday, by 10 a.m. there was no toilet paper left on the shelves. On St. Patrick’s Day, for the first time ever an unidentified Ingles employee said, there is no corned beef.
Last week, the employee said, a manager had to comfort a crying customer on the toilet paper aisle. “She just broke down,” the employee said.
In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, grocery stores all over the country have struggled with keeping their shelves stocked, particularly with cleaning products and toilet paper. Stores in Madison are no exception.
“Our priority is making sure that customers get what they need. The demand is crazy high and we’re doing everything we can to keep up with it,” said Walmart Store Manager Adam Cade.
At Ingles, employees have noticed a rise of new customers coming to the store. “They are coming out of Atlanta,” an employee said.
Both stores have adjusted their hours of operation. According to a press release by Ingles, all 198 stores are closing at 10 p.m. to give staff more focused time on cleaning and restocking. The same can be said for Walmart as they have changed their hours of operations to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and time in between is spent restocking and cleaning.
“In addition to our normal cleaning procedures, we are ensuring an even more rigorous cleaning routine throughout our company. We have ramped up our cleaning schedules on surfaces like checkout and U-SCAN lanes, touch-pads, and shopping carts, to name a few,” according to the press release.
“We are monitoring this situation daily, and, as we do with any unusual event, we will watch what’s happening locally and adjust business operations and policies as needed,” according to a statement put out by Walmart.
Sales have skyrocketed in both stores, however, exact numbers were unable to be disclosed. Each store is taking the situation day by day and is working tirelessly to meet the needs of its customers.
According to Ingles CEO Ron Freeman, “Reacting to circumstances that change constantly is 100 percent of our focus right now. Our store associates have really pushed themselves to help our customers get what they need.”