Grocery stores offer 'elderly-only' shopping hours amid coronavirus concerns

“It will just give them a bit of quiet time to get what they need."
Shopping trolleys seen outside an Iceland store, One of the
Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY
By Lindsay Lowe

Some grocery stores are now offering elderly-only shopping hours in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Starting tomorrow, one branch of a popular British supermarket chain, Iceland, will set aside an hour each morning between 8 and 9 a.m. for senior shoppers only.

Iceland is a popular grocery chain in the United Kingdom and across Europe.Getty Images

Danny Burke, who manages the Iceland location at the Kennedy Centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland, says this move will help create a safer and more comfortable shopping environment for older customers.

“The store is fully cleaned every morning, anyway, so the store is always at its cleanest and tidiest (in the morning),” Burke, 37, told TODAY Food. “The elderly will be able to come in and they won’t be intimidated by the big crowds and people rushing around trying to grab anything.”

A handful of other stores in other countries have implemented similar plans.

DeCicco & Sons, a small grocery chain with locations across New York state, recently announced that it is setting aside “special shopping times” daily from 8 to 8:30 a.m. for “senior customers and immunocompromised families.”

And Woolworths, a popular grocery chain in Australia, announced a similar initiative on Twitter.

“We’re launching a dedicated shopping hour in our stores to help support the needs of the elderly & people with disability in the community,” the company tweeted on Sunday. “From tomorrow until at least Friday, we’ll be opening exclusively for them to shop from 7-8am, where permitted.”

Older adults, as well as people with underlying health conditions, tend to be more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus, according to the CDC. These elderly-only shopping hours could keep seniors safe by providing them with a cleaner, less crowded shopping environment.

Burke hopes this will be the case for his Iceland store, which he says has been inundated with people stocking up on nonperishable foods, toilet paper and other supplies.

“Busy would be an understatement. It is carnage,” he said. “I mean, there’s still food left. People can still get food, but it’s the obvious stuff which is disappearing, the toilet rolls, the long-life grocery items like tins and pastas and ready-made noodles.”

He hopes his store's senior-only hours will help elderly people avoid the stress of the daily stockpiling rush.

“It will just give them a bit of quiet time to get what they need and get home before it all sort of kicks off,” he said.