With people wanting to stock up and stay home amidst concerns about the spread of COVID-19, grocery stores all around Houston are getting slammed. Area residents have been sharing photos on social media of long lines and empty shelves at supermarkets in the Garden Oaks, Oak Forest and Heights areas.
Depending on the time of day and the store, some shoppers are having more success than others.
H-E-B, which has locations at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr. and 3663 Washington Ave., announced on Friday afternoon that all its Houston-area stores, along with all Joe V’s Smart Shop, Mi Tienda and Central Market locations will shift to modified hours and close at 8 p.m. today. Starting Saturday, the stores will be open from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. until further notice. H-E-B said the change aims to help the stores keep shelves stocked.
“These temporary changes, along with some adjustment to our services, will help us keep our shelves stocked and help ensure our customers can secure the products they need as quickly as possible,” H-E-B president of food and drug Scott McClelland said in a news release. “Please remember that while preparation is important, panic is not necessary. We will return to our regular hours and full services as quickly as possible.”
Other area stores also are struggling to keep up. A Facebook user said that early Friday afternoon, the Kroger at 1352 W 43rd St., had just one door open with a line to get in, but the line went relatively fast.
“I just left the Whole Foods on Yale and 610,” another Facebook user wrote early Friday afternoon. “Produce is low, barely any meat, no cleaning supplies, no paper towels or TP and no bottled water. It was easy to get in and out, but not much on the shelves”
According to another comment made on Facebook around 1:30 p.m., the Whole Foods 365, 101 N. Loop W., had no line and plenty of vegan items.
A photo posted to Facebook on Thursday evening showed a line outside the door at Joe V’s, 12009 Northwest Fwy. Commenters on the post said places like the H-E-B in the Heights and ALDI at 3938 N. Shepherd Dr. weren’t as busy at times.
At H-E-B in the Heights, locals said items such as rice and beans and canned goods were sparse but most everything else was in stock or regularly being restocked. One resident said she was in and out in about 15 minutes.
“While our customers may find our supply of some products low or temporarily out of stock, please rest assured that we’re maintaining close contact with our suppliers and our Partners (employees) are working around-the-clock to keep our shelves stocked,” said Lisa Helfman, Director of Public Affairs for H-E-B Houston.
Helfman also said that H-E-B has been preparing for coronavirus and is in a “strong position” to keep replenishing our shelves.
“We are encouraging preparedness, not stockpiling,” Helfman said. “Please buy what you need and leave some for your neighbor behind you. We are in this as a community and it’s important to keep calm.”