In the Aisles: Retailers rise to the occasion

Ed. note: This is the first in a series of daily dispatches that Drug Store News will publish throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Crazy times, for sure. 

But, thankfully, mass retail is doing its part to help Americans get the food, medicine and, yes, even the toilet paper they need to get through the coronavirus pandemic that has recently hit our shores. 

I spent a number of hours over the last few days with store managers and clerks at some of the nation’s leading retailers — including all three of the major drug store chains, Walmart, Target and several local supermarket chains. What I found is a strong determination to help their customers get through this crisis as easily as possible. 

Some observations:

  • There was zero price gouging. In fact, retailers seem to be willing to lower some prices for their customers. 
  • There were many attempts by store personnel to work with customers to get the products they need and get them out of the store as quickly as possible. 
  • Pharmacists, across the board, were answering as many questions as they could from harried and, in some cases, panicked customers. Professionalism shined through. At one CVS Pharmacy, the very busy pharmacist insisted on walking a shopper over to the cough/cold aisle for allergy medicine, giving her the various benefits of five or six different products. Then he rushed back to others. 
  • It was all hands on deck. I witnessed a store manager at a local Walgreens carry out products to an elderly couple’s car. I watched a Shop-Rite store manager stocking the paper aisle with much-in-demand toilet paper and paper towels, sweat pouring down his face as he climbed a ladder to make sure as much product was available to shopper as possible. I watched a Walmart employee run after a customer who forgot one of his bags at the checkout. 
  • And, I am happy to report, I watched consumers act responsibly as they sought to fill their cupboards and freezers with the products they may need in the coming weeks. 

The best, though, was having top executives from several retailers get up with President Trump on Friday and announce that they are going to help beat this pandemic. They will start conducting coronavirus tests in their stores and will take other steps to calm consumer fears. 

Proud moments during some very tough times. Glad to be a part of this industry right now. 

About the Author

More Blog Posts In This Series

  • In the Aisles: Curbside pickup's big break

    Dan Ochwat examines how savvy shoppers have been leveraging curbside pickup at Kroger, Whole Foods, Target, Walmart and other retailers for some time, prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • In the Aisles: Virtual connections

    Dan Ochwat examines how COVID-19 has led retailers and suppliers to get creative about connecting virtually in the wake of several postponed or canceled industry events.
  • In the Aisles: Remaining a resource

    DSN editor in chief Seth Mendelson highlights how retailers are working to keep the in-store experience as painless as possible in trying times.