How grocery stores have fared during the coronavirus in every state

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April 16, 2020
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How grocery stores have fared during the coronavirus in every state

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the economy for a loop, leaving some industries drowning in its wake. Restaurants have been forced to close their dining rooms and switch to takeout and delivery only. The country’s casino gaming industry, previously valued at $261 billion, is struggling with indefinite closures of facilities. National sporting events, including those held by the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association, have been canceled. Box offices have pulled their lowest weekend revenues since 2000, and the travel industry, including hotels, airlines, and cruises, is projected to lose tens of billions of dollars of revenue.

But one business that might be thriving is your local supermarket. Grocery stores in dozens of states have seen a surge of shoppers searching for supplies and stockpiling food, and those in eight states have had over 50% sales growth year over year. However, the rapid uptick in customers, combined with the increasing awareness about how easily the coronavirus can be transmitted, has forced grocery stores to make some big changes. Depending on where you live, you might have to wait in a long line to enter a supermarket, follow a one-way path through the store as you do your shopping, be supervised by an armed guard, or speak to a cashier through a plexiglass barrier for their protection—and yours. And since shelves at some stores have been picked bare of essentials, you might have to repeat the experience to check everything off your shopping list.

Not every state’s grocery stores have seen the same level of crowds and hoarding, though. To learn how the pandemic is impacting supermarkets across the country, Stacker sourced data on how grocery stores have fared during the coronavirus from Womply. Data shows the change in grocery store year-over-year sales for the week ending April 2, 2020. States are ranked from the biggest decrease to the highest sales growth.

Wondering how grocery stores in your state have held up during this uncertain time? Read on to learn more about how supermarkets are doing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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#50. Delaware

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: -57%

As part of Gov. John Carney’s emergency order, grocery stores in Delaware must adhere to new rules to help ensure customers can practice social distancing. They must limit the number of shoppers to no more than 20% of the capacity issued by the fire marshal or 10% during hours specifically for senior citizens and other high-risk customers. Stores must also indicate 6-foot spacing in high-traffic places like checkout lines.

#49. Hawaii

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: -56%

Some of Hawaii’s most remote residents have a new way to get groceries delivered: by air. After the main grocery store on the island of Molokai closed, Mokulele Airlines started providing complimentary shipping of two bags of groceries per person on flights from Honolulu or Kahului.

#48. Wisconsin

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: -49%

Wisconsin food retailers have reduced their hours during the coronavirus pandemic. Some have decided to close early so staff have more time to clean and restock shelves.

#47. Colorado

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: -17%

Crowds of shoppers have made grocery store workers in Colorado worried about coming down with COVID-19. Food retail workers told The Colorado Sun they can’t follow social distancing guidelines due to the size of the stores and the volume of customers.

#46. Alaska

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: -16%

While many states have implemented bans on single-use plastic bags in recent years, one local chain of grocery stores in Alaska has taken the opposite approach during the pandemic. Three Bears Alaska no longer allows customers to bring reusable shopping bags out of concern about cleanliness and possible contamination.

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#45. Nebraska

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: -10%

Some food retailers in Nebraska will soon be able accept online orders from residents who use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to pay for food. The pilot program, which includes a handful of retailers like ShopRite and Safeway, aims to increase vulnerable residents’ access to groceries during the COVID-19 crisis.

#44. Rhode Island

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: -9%

Grocery stores in Rhode Island are required to limit the number of customers to 20% of their fire capacity at a time. They’re also no longer allowed to offer self-serve food.

#43. Oregon

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: -8%

Paying for groceries in Oregon has become similar to making transactions with a bank teller. Some stores, including Albertsons and Safeway, have installed plexiglass barriers at their checkout lanes in effort to protect employees from the coronavirus.

#42 (tie). North Dakota

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: -3%

In a letter to The Bismarck Tribune, the president of the North Dakota Grocers Association emphasized that empty store shelves were not because of a lack of inventory, but rather an increase in customer demand. He assured residents that high-demand items are being fairly allocated to grocery stores of all sizes so that everyone has an opportunity to get what they need.

#42 (tie). Washington

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: -3%

Grocery stores in Washington, which had the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the U.S., have made a variety of changes to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Some have limited the amount of customers to just a small portion of the store’s capacity, while others have installed plexiglass barriers for cashiers and closed half of the checkout stands.

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#40. Iowa

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: 0%

Iowa grocers no longer have to accept empty cans and bottles for recycling during the COVID-19 pandemic. An association of 1,400 grocery stores is petitioning the state to eventually make the temporary measure permanent.

#39 (tie). Idaho

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +1%

Traditional grocery stores in Idaho have some added competition during the pandemic. Some hospitals around Boise, Twin Falls, and other areas of the state have set up mini grocery stores for their employees so they don’t need to go to the supermarket.

#39 (tie). Missouri

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +1%

Face masks might soon become mandatory within grocery stores in Missouri. A union of food and commercial workers has called on the state’s governor to require that members of the public wear face coverings while shopping at supermarkets.

#37 (tie). Kentucky

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +5%

Kentucky has implemented a new measure that only allows one person per household to visit a grocery store at a given time. The state has also made grocery store workers eligible for child care services through the government.

#37 (tie). Ohio

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +5%

Some supermarkets have converted their Ohio retail locations into pickup and delivery fulfillment centers. The stores cite an “unprecedented demand in curbside delivery” as part of the reason for converting the space.

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#35. Vermont

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +6%

Grocery clerks in Vermont have officially been dubbed “emergency workers” by the state government. The new status gives them access to free child care.

#34. Alabama

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +7%

Police are enforcing limits on crowds at grocery stores in Montgomery, Alabama. The state’s stay-at-home order only allows 10 customers inside a store at a time, but police have the discretion to permit up to 50 people at larger stores.

#33. Mississippi

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +10%

In an effort to prevent shortages at the beginning of the pandemic, Mississippi grocery stores set limits on the amount of milk each customer could buy. The state’s commissioner of agriculture and commerce is now urging supermarkets to discontinue the limits, as dairy farmers have been forced to dump an oversupply of milk.

#32. North Carolina

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +12%

Grocery stores across North Carolina have been adjusting hours to give staff more time to restock. Some supermarkets in the state have seen fights break out between customers over the last rolls of toilet paper and other supplies.

#31 (tie). Maine

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +14%

Supermarkets in Maine have been recruiting new employees in an effort to keep up with a deluge of customers. Hannaford and Shaw’s, the state’s two largest grocery chains, have announced plans to hire hundreds of new workers as soon as possible.

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#31 (tie). Pennsylvania

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +14%

Despite overall rising sales at supermarkets in Pennsylvania, one store in the state hasn’t fared quite as well during the pandemic. Gerrity’s Supermarkets in Hanover Township, Pennsylvania, threw out more than $35,000 worth of products in late March after someone purposely coughed on food as part of a prank.

#31 (tie). West Virginia

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +14%

The first hour of the day at some grocery stores in West Virginia is reserved for high-risk shoppers like older adults and immunocompromised people. Supermarkets have also set limitations on high-demand foods and started closing earlier for cleaning and restocking.

#28. Indiana

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +15%

GetGo, Walmart, Kroger, Meijer, and other stores have placed decals to floors near checkout lanes to promote social distancing at their Indiana grocery stores. Kroger has also taken things one step further by installing transparent partitions at cash registers to give staff separation from customers.

#27. Massachusetts

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +20%

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has mandated that the state’s grocery stores cap the total number of people inside to 40% of their legal maximum. That number includes both customers and employees. Grocery stores with a capacity no higher than 25 people are exempt from the rule.

#26. New Hampshire

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +21%

Employees of least three Shaw’s Supermarkets locations in New Hampshire have tested positive for COVID-19. The company conducts thorough cleaning and disinfection procedures beyond its normal sanitizing practices in stores that have had a confirmed case of the virus. It has also implemented social distancing precautions when people are close together for more than a few minutes.

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#25. California

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +22%

Thousands of California grocery stores have begun giving workers hazard pay on top of their regular wages during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees at some supermarkets, like Kroger, have also been granted emergency paid leave and expanded sick-leave benefits.

#24. Virginia

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +23%

BJ’s Wholesale Club, which has locations in 14 areas of Virginia, announced in early April that it would start taking the temperatures of employees when they report to work. Workers who have an elevated temperature will not be allowed to enter the store.

#23. Georgia

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +25%

Shoppers in Georgia have been picking grocery store shelves clean faster than employees can restock them. Luckily for customers in Cobb County, Georgia, the local government has created a new app to track which grocery stores have essential goods in stock.

#22. Texas

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +26%

With local supermarkets selling out of basic products, people in Southeast Texas can now buy grocery store items at select restaurants. The state has also waived a restriction on “trucks from the alcohol industry” delivering goods to grocery stores in order to keep shelves stocked during the pandemic, according to the U.S. News & World Report.

#21. Louisiana

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +30%

Grocery stores in Louisiana are working hard to meet an increasing demand for pickup and delivery services as customers hunker down at home. Some stores have hired new staff to help with the influx of orders, while others are taking longer to fulfill orders.

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#20. Florida

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +31%

The city of Miami has started mandating face masks for everyone inside grocery stores in response to the coronavirus. Many Florida supermarkets have also cut their opening hours to give staff time to clean and restock.

#19. Nevada

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +32%

Grocery Stores in Nevada have started adding protective panels at checkout lanes as part of social distancing measures. Some supermarkets have also been asking government officials for help providing workers with masks and gloves.

#18. Minnesota

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +35%

In an effort to keep up with rising customer demand and lend a helping hand to unemployed people, some grocery stores in Minnesota are on a hiring spree. Kowalski’s says it is speeding up its hiring process to get new employees working as quickly as possible.

#17. South Carolina

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +36%

14 Carrot Whole Foods, a grocery store in Lexington, South Carolina, has been giving every shopper hand sanitizer and gloves to put staff at ease. Supermarkets in the state must also follow a new rule that only allows “five customers per every 1,000 square feet of the building,” according to Count On News 2.

#16 (tie). Arkansas

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +37%

Once the coronavirus was determined to be a pandemic, grocery stores in Arkansas saw a surge of shoppers. Customers have reported 30-to-40-minute waits at checkout aisles and challenges finding meat, toilet paper, and shelf-stable foods.

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#16 (tie). Wyoming

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +37%

Grocery stores in Wyoming have implemented a range of new precautions to protect workers and customers. Some have placed strips of tape on the floor to indicate where customers should stand to keep 6 feet apart, and others have added partitions to cash registers.

#14 (tie). Michigan

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +39%

Kroger will soon start designating one-way aisles in some supermarkets in Michigan as a potential way to improve social distancing. Grocery stores across the state must also adhere to new mandates limiting the number of customers inside at one time.

#14 (tie). South Dakota

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +39%

The Korner Grocery in Pierre, South Dakota, has been giving first responders free snacks and meals during the COVID-19 crisis. Like grocery stores in other cities, supermarkets in Sioux Falls have faced shortages of toilet paper, antibacterial wipes, and hand sanitizer.

#14 (tie). Utah

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +39%

Staff at one Utah supermarket chain are now tasked with wiping down shopping carts, credit card kiosks, and checkout stands in between customers. They’re also required to wear gloves and masks.

#11. New York

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +43%

Despite an initial surge in business, some New York City grocery stores—particularly those in wealthier neighborhoods—have seen a big drop in customers after well-to-do residents fled the city. They’ve been redirecting some hard-to-get products to grocery stores in middle-class neighborhoods to meet ongoing demand in those areas.

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#10. Arizona

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +44%

Grocery stores in Arizona will have to compete with restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state announced it will allow restaurants to convert into pop-up grocery stores in effort to help offset losses.

#9. Illinois

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +45%

Grocery stores in Illinois are urging customers to stay out of stores and instead schedule curbside pickup to help protect clerks. Shoppers who do visit supermarkets are being encouraged to use self-checkout lanes.

#8. New Jersey

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +47%

Some supermarkets in Burlington County, New Jersey, have hired armed guards to maintain order and discourage bad behavior from customers. Grocery stores throughout the state have shifted hours and implemented purchasing limits on certain items like cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer.

#7. Oklahoma

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +50%

One-way aisles and restrictions on the number of customers allowed to enter grocery stores may soon be the norm in Oklahoma as supermarkets try to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Grocery stores in the state have already reserved early morning hours for older shoppers.

#6. Montana

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +53%

In an effort to curb hoarding, one grocery store in Sheridan, Montana, has been holding products in the stockroom and implementing purchase limits. Another grocery store in Missoula has closed its self-service food bars and cafe area to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

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#5. Maryland

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +56%

After a 27-year-old grocery store worker in Maryland died from COVID-19 in early April, supermarkets in the state and nearby Washington D.C. have added more social distancing rules. Montgomery County, Maryland, now requires shoppers to wear face masks inside grocery stores and managers to give supermarket workers time to wash their hands every half-hour. Other stores in the state have implemented one-way traffic in aisles and limitations on how many customers can enter the market at a given time.

#4. Tennessee

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +57%

Some grocery stores in Tennessee have installed barriers at the checkout lane and started cleaning shopping carts between each use to make things safer for both workers and shoppers. Supermarket employees have also stayed on the clock longer to keep up with the rise in demand.

#3. Connecticut

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +62%

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont recently ordered the state’s grocery stores to halve their capacity in order to make shopping safer during the pandemic. One small chain of Connecticut grocery stores is taking measures one step further: it will soon begin taking the temperature of both shoppers and workers before granting them entry.

#2. New Mexico

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +64%

Many shoppers must now wait in line to go grocery shopping in New Mexico as supermarkets limit the number of customers allowed inside at the same time. Some grocery stores have also placed markers on their floors to help customers stay spaced apart.

#1. Kansas

- Average revenue vs. same week in 2019: +69%

After seeing shelves stripped bare, grocery stores in Kansas are urging customers to stop hoarding and buy only what they need. Some supermarkets have also dedicated certain hours for vulnerable shoppers and banned reusable bags.

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