A regional grocery giant is altering store design and operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Publix has started installing plexiglass shields at all cash registers, pharmacies and customer service counters, as well as suspended in-store product and recipe sampling and classes. The retailer has also increased sanitization through frequent and regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces like carts, door handles, PIN pads, ATMs and vending machines. To allow extra time for store cleaning and preventive sanitation, Publix has reduced store hours.
In addition, Publix has relocated high-touch condiments that are not single-use items, such as creamer carafes and squeeze bottles, behind the service counter in stores with cafés. The company is installing signs, marking distances on the floor where customers line up, and initiating intercom announcements to remind customers to maintain the recommended 6-ft. distance between themselves and other shoppers.
Store associates in non-food handling roles, such as cashiers, baggers and pharmacy clerks, now have the option to wear gloves and masks. For customers age 65 and over, Publix has designated shopping hours for customers ages 65 and over.
Publix expects to complete implementation of contactless payment in all stores, including GreenWise Market, by Saturday, April 4. Customers can make contactless payment by placing a smartphone or contactless pay-enabled credit or debit card near a contactless-enabled device, rather than swiping or inserting a card into the PIN pad. Publix will offer contactless pay in addition to its existing mobile pay option through the Publix app, which customers can still use to finalize their purchases.
“In these unprecedented times, we recognized the need to make our customers’ trips to our stores faster and more efficient,” said Publix CEO Todd Jones. “By expediting this payment option, we will help customers reduce contact with commonly used surfaces like PIN pads.”
Publix is privately owned and operated by its more than 200,000 employees and currently operates 1,242 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.