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Giant Eagle, Other Supermarkets Can't Keep Up With Demand For Toilet Paper

Paper products at Giant Eagle's Grandview Store
Debbie Holmes
Paper products at Giant Eagle's Grandview Store

Workers sanitizing the handles of shopping carts and baskets has become the new normal at the Giant Eagle in Grandview, and at supermarkets around Ohio.

As grocery stores nationwide are hit with increased demand for food and supplies, Giant Eagle stores are stepping up efforts to improve service and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Store officials say they are following a checklist of cleaning procedures for cash registers, conveyor belts and in restrooms.

Due to limited supply, customers can purchase only one paper item, such as a box of tissues. Toilet paper, however, is gone entirely from the shelves - as it is at Meijer and other Columbus-area groceries.

A new shipment could come sometime this week. Meats, frozen vegetables and milk are still in stock.

“We feel like we have an ample supply in our facilities,” says Brian Ferrier, Giant Eagle’s regional vice president of operations. “We feel like we have an ample supply in the supply chain that will be headed to our facilities. So right now, rather than speculate, I’ll just tell you that we’re really comfortable where we’re at right now.”

Giant Eagle and Market District supermarkets across the country have temporarily changed their hours to 7 a.m.-10 p.m, to allow staff members to sanitize and restock.

Giant Eagle worker wipes down a shopping cart to prevent spread of coronavirus.
Credit Debbie Holmes / WOSU
Giant Eagle worker wipes down a shopping cart to prevent spread of coronavirus.

Other grocery chains such as Kroger, Walmart, Meijer and Aldi's have made similar changes to their hours and cleanliness practices.

Ferrier says Giant Eagle expects to do a lot more hiring in the coming days and weeks.

“People are working double shift,” Ferrier says. “People are bringing friends and neighbors to work that we’re hiring.”

The Ohio Department of Health makes the following recommendations to protect yourself from illness:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; dry hands with a clean towel or air dry hands.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.

Ohio's coronavirus call center is open to answer questions from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The hotline number is 1-833-4-ASK-ODH or 1-833-427-5634. More information is available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Debbie Holmes began her career in broadcasting in Columbus after graduating from The Ohio State University. She left the Buckeye state to pursue a career in television news and worked as a reporter and anchor in Moline, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee.