Stop & Shop plans to hire 5,000 workers, including 450 on Long Island, in part to meet rising customer demand for retail services that reduce or eliminate customer-employee contact.
"We’ve seen an unprecedented demand for delivery and [curbside] pickup" during the pandemic, spokeswoman Stefanie Shuman said Wednesday.
Stop & Shop, the largest supermarket chain on Long Island, currently has more than 9,000 workers at 51 stores on the Island, Shuman said.
Stop & Shop operates five "warerooms" attached to stores in Nassau and Suffolk, where employees fill customer orders for Stop & Shop delivery, formerly called Peapod. The company plans to add a sixth at its Hempstead Village supermarket in January. Each wareroom is about 9,000 square feet.
Since the pandemic began, Stop & Shop delivery has been expanded with more time slots, which requires more workers to gather the grocery orders in stores and drivers to deliver them, Shuman said.
The chain introduced curbside pickup on Long Island in May 2019, when the service was rolled out at its East Northport store.
Curbside pickup is now offered at 27 area stores, and will be expanded to six more stores, including those in Seaford, Port Washington and Massapequa, by the end of this year, Shuman said.
Grocery store workers have been on the frontlines of the pandemic since the health crisis started to hit the U.S. in February. While many businesses were ordered to close for months under government mandates to help stop the spread of the virus, grocery stores were allowed to remain open as essential businesses.
Panic-buying early in the pandemic resulted in shoppers crowding grocery stores to pick shelves bare of milk, breads, eggs, toilet paper, cleaning supplies and other items.
Socially distancing shoppers, however, turned to contactless shopping methods in record numbers.
Nationally, sales from customers’ curbside pickups and buying online for pickup in stores have grown a whopping 140% over the last year, according to Adobe Analytics, a division of San Jose, California-based software company Adobe Inc.
So, grocers have had to increase their staffing to handle the crush – and they've had to boost wages and benefits to entice people to work on the frontlines during a health crisis.
"In total, Stop & Shop has invested more than $121 million in its people throughout the pandemic in extended health care and leave benefits, which included offering paid time off for any associate who must quarantine, as well as access to PPE and other measures to help keep them safe," the chain said in a statement.
Owned by Dutch company Ahold Delhaize, Quincy, Massachusetts-based Stop & Shop has 58,000 employees in more than 400 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, Shuman said.