The flagship Qualicum Foods store in Qualicum Beach is now one of 13 in the Quality Foods grocery store chain. (PHOTO COURTESY QUALITY FOODS)

Quality Foods closes for Easter to thank grocery workers

Delivery orders nearly break online system for Island grocery store

For the first time in nearly 40 years, Quality Foods on Vancouver Island will close all their stores for Easter Sunday. The move is a thank you to employees who have been working under challenging conditions since coronavirus was deemed a pandemic by the World Health Organization in March.

“For the last 25 or 30 years we’ve always closed early, at 6 p.m. on Easter Sunday,” Quality Foods president Noel Hayward said.

The idea of closing for one day over Easter weekend received immediate support from the public as well as employees, Hayward said. “They’ve been working really, really hard and it’s a well-deserved day off. What better way to do it than Easter Sunday?

“We’re really proud of what they’re doing,” he said of Quality Foods’ employees. There are 1,200 working between the chain’s 13 grocery stores, located primarily on Vancouver Island.

The chain has been in overwhelming demand since mid-March, as people’s shopping habits have changed in the time of COVID-19 restrictions.

When the Canadian health agency recommended people stock up with a couple of weeks’ worth of food in case of self-isolation “it kind of went nuts,” Hayward said. “We all saw the panic buying of the bathroom tissue. The biggest increase on any item has been on yeast, because everyone’s baking at home.”

Suppliers are still catching up to demand on many items, he added.

Online ordering and home deliveries also spiked, and Quality Foods’ technical department expanded its system to accommodate increased traffic.

“Normally we have 200 (home deliveries) per week online. Last week I’m proud to say we did 1,200. There were as many as 2,500 people shopping online at once.”

The online shopping site has been streamlined to include certain delivery windows, so people don’t have to wait for weeks for their groceries. Quality Foods is also increasing the amount of deliveries it can do per day while limiting people to prevent those who were ordering groceries several times per week, Hayward said.

He also has a tip for people who have been having difficulty processing their orders: disable your popup blockers so you can access the payment processing window. Customer service representatives have been taking a higher than normal volume of calls from people, and that is one of the most common difficulties people are facing.

Staff in the brick-and-mortar stores have scrambled to keep up with safety measures, from installing plexiglas shields between cashiers and the public, to creating one-way aisles in some stores, sanitizing the handles of buggies and the tills after every customer. Employees have also been instructed to wash their hands every 20 minutes, Hayward said.

Foot traffic in stores is down 40 percent but the size of people’s buggies has doubled in the past month. “People tend to shop once a week like they did in the past. The size of their orders is more than double what it used to be.

“In all our time in grocery service who would have thought we would be considered essential service?”

Once the Easter holiday is over, Hayward said shopping for seniors will resume from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. daily. As for the best time to shop while social distancing? “After 6 p.m. it’s quite quiet,” he said.



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusPORT ALBERNIquality foods

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Quality Foods in Port Alberni has seen a lot more online delivery requests than usual as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. (ELENA RARDON/ Alberni Valley News)

Just Posted

Colwood eyes upgrades to recreation area near Lookout Lake Dam

Upgrades to dam estimated to be complete before end of year

Crime stats show a shift in Oak Bay during COVID-19

Thefts from automobiles, marinas up this spring

Eight people arrested on Pandora Avenue after enforcement order issued

Those living in homeless camps were given until May 20 to move indoors

When crisis hits: How West Shore RCMP has dealt with the pandemic

More front-line officers on road in mobile offices

Victoria society purchases addiction recovery home after year of fundraising

Umbrella Society’s Foundation House is a second stage house for men in active recovery

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

B.C. residents can now reserve a provincial campsite for a stay starting June 1

Campsite reservations will only be available to British Columbians

Cullen commission into money laundering in British Columbia resumes today

Inquiry was called amid growing concern that illegal cash was helping fuel real estate, luxury car and gambling

Bike shops busier than ever, but owners worry about stock supply issues

Uptick in cyclists brings new challenges for shops

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

Most Read