1. Increased Health and Safety Measures


As supplying food and other necessities is an essential service for all residents, San Diego County has been working closely with area grocers to implement extensive measures to protect the health and safety of employees and customers during this challenging time. 


The county is requiring all employees at grocery and convenience stores, pharmacies, restaurants, and gas stations to wear face masks while at work, in addition to other safety precautions. 


Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Whole Foods has outlined a multi-layered approach for protecting employees and customers in locations throughout the country. Beginning with meticulous adjustments to operational practices, modifications have been made to prepared foods, self-service options, and daily sanitation protocols. The grocery chain is also following strict social distancing guidelines, as well as installing plexiglass barriers to protect employees and customers.


National chain Trader Joe’s is following similar guidelines to protect workers and patrons. Employees are provided regular breaks throughout their shift to wash their hands, while “high touch areas” such as restrooms, registers, grocery carts, and baskets are disinfected multiple times throughout the day. 


Local Trader Joe’s locations such as the Mission Valley store quickly integrated social distancing measures into their operations. Workers monitor and limit the number of shoppers allowed inside at any given time in order to promote a distance of six feet or more between all individuals. Markers are placed on the floor designating appropriate distancing for customers waiting in checkout lines, and hand sanitation stations are made available throughout the stores. Trader Joe’s also provides continuous updates for customers on locations temporarily closed for additional cleaning on their website.


Grocers local to the San Diego area are also taking a proactive approach to safeguarding their loyal customers and the communities they call home. Jimbo’s, a local chain with a mission to promote healthy lifestyles and a company vision statement of “a piece of organic fruit in every child’s lunch bag,” is diligently working to continue to supply organic produce and products free from white sugar, harmful chemicals, and preservatives in a safe manner. 


Since opening its first store in North Park in 1984, Jimbo’s has now expanded to five San Diego locations: Carmel Valley, Escondido, Carlsbad, 4S Ranch, and downtown Horton Plaza. The company prides itself on working with local organic farmers and natural food vendors to make quality natural foods accessible to San Diego residents. In response to the current challenges, Jimbo’s has taken several steps to protect staff and patrons while continuing their mission. 


All product returns are temporarily suspended, and all sales are final. Self-serve areas, such as the salad bar, soup station, hot bar, pizza station, and nut butter grinder, are temporarily closed. All product samples and demonstrations are currently suspended. Signs and staff members in the stores provide reminders to customers to be mindful of the quantities of items they are purchasing, and limits have been placed on high-demand products.


Other Southern California chains, including Bristol Farms, Keil’s and Vons, are taking similar measures, from adjusted hours to provide employees more time to sanitize, restock, and rest, to no longer allowing customers to bring personal reusable containers. Daily temperature check screenings for store employees are also being implemented in order to avoid spreading sickness.


The California Grocers Association released guidelines for grocery shopping during the coronavirus pandemic, which can be found here

2. Special Shopping Hours


Grocers throughout the San Diego area have made adjustments to store hours in order to provide additional protection for their shoppers in more vulnerable populations, such as senior citizens, those with underlying conditions, and disabled persons. 


At the Whole Foods Hillcrest location, shoppers 60 years of age and older can participate in limited hours. Doors will open for seniors starting at 7 a.m—an hour before the store’s 8 a.m. public opening. 


Effective March 20th, Jimbo’s began opening their doors from 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. for seniors and disabled persons “so they can shop in a less crowded environment and have an opportunity to purchase items they need.” In a letter to their customers, Jimbo’s also encouraged the community to reach out to neighbors and help where they can to get groceries to those who are currently unable to shop for their own essentials. 


Southern California chain Vons has implemented special shopping hours from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday to include senior citizens, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems. 


Several other area stores, such as Albertsons, Ralphs, Northgate Gonzalez Market, Barons Market, Vallarta Supermarkets, and others, are offering designated hours for vulnerable populations to shop for their essentials away from the general public. 

3. Delivery Options


Shoppers preferring to order their groceries online for curbside pickup or at-home delivery will have no trouble finding options to fit their needs. Jimbo’s, for example, is now offering home delivery through Instacart, while Mercato is offering delivery services from a long list of area grocers, including Stump’s Family Marketplace, Carnival Market, and Windmill Farms. Kroger is providing free pickup services at all of its store locations throughout the country, and delivery options are also available at an additional fee. 


In partnership with Amazon, Whole Foods is providing free, two-hour grocery delivery to all Prime Members, which includes no-contact door drop in more than 2,000 cities throughout the U.S. Pickup options are also available at certain locations. 

4. Benefits and Protections for Essential Employees


Due to grocery store employees’ designation as essential workers, their tireless and diligent effort amid a global crisis cannot be understated. Grocers throughout California are changing company policies to protect and appropriately compensate employees whose work is so important to the health and wellbeing of their communities.


Trader Joe’s is providing extensive benefits and increased pay for crew members. Employees are encouraged to stay home if they do not feel well and now have up to two weeks of additional paid sick time to protect the health of themselves, their families, and the community. Crew members’ pay has also been increased by an additional $2 per hour as a thank you for their hard work and service to customers. Trader Joe’s is also offering employees additional options to maintain health insurance and additional benefits. 


Jimbo’s has also increased employee hourly pay and quarterly bonuses. In a letter to workers, Jimbo Someck, Jimbo’s founder, thanked staff members for their “exceptional level of service” and for “providing hope to customers to find some level of peace, tranquility, and reassurance” amid the current situation.


Whole Foods Market also bumped up hourly pay for staff members throughout their international locations. All part- and full-time hourly team members at Whole Foods Market stores and facilities will receive double their regular hourly base rate of pay for every overtime hour worked in a workweek from March 16th through May 3rd, 2020. Additional shopping hours are specifically designated for team members so they can purchase essential items for themselves and their families. 


Finally, employees throughout the state are receiving protective masks, face coverings, and gloves to protect their health, as well as the wellbeing of customers.


Interested in additional information on the various ways communities in the San Diego area have responded to the current pandemic? Contact K. Ann Brizolis today. With years of experience in the San Diego luxury real estate market, she can answer any questions you have about the local communities. Whether you’re looking for Santa Luz homes for sale or Rancho Santa Fe real estate, the K. Ann Brizolis team’s expertise can help you find the perfect piece of San Diego luxury real estate.