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

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

 

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

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

Just Posted

John Edmondson, left, from Bread of Life, Colin Minions and Capt. Michael Ramsay from the Salvation Army demonstrate Port Alberni’s first community food pantry, located on Tebo Avenue outside Jericho Road Church, Jan. 22, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Free food pantry opens in Port Alberni

Volunteers will monitor the pantry to make sure it stays stocked

An Island Health graph showing COVID-19 cases in the central Island by local health area between Dec. 27 and Jan. 23. (Island Health image)
Central Island’s COVID-19 case spike shifting, says Island Health

Cowichan Valley has seen the highest number of cases, but Nanaimo and south Island seeing upticks

Carol Hanson and Ellen Frood of ACAWS were two of the first 100 people to raise $500 for the Coldest Night of the Year 2021 event across Canada. They received these hoodies in recognition of their efforts. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Coldest Night of the Year goes virtual for 2021

Port Alberni organizers urging people to share photos of their walks to create community feel

Larry Brechin’s first day working at Woodward’s Store in 1962. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
VALLEY SENIORS: Woodward’s was an Alberni Valley landmark

Port Alberni residents share their memories of the department store

A Viking Air Twin Otter takes off on Runway 12 midway through a day of test flights on Jan. 13, 2021 at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport. Viking Air is located in Victoria. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Viking Air tests Twin Otter at Port Alberni airport

Victoria-based company used rural airport for numerous flights

(Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
The Pachena Bay shoreline in 2013. (Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
This week in history: 9.0 magnitude quake struck under what is now called Vancouver Island

According to First Nations elders, the 9.0-magnitude quake in 1700 CE kick-started a tsunami

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker have been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
B.C. couple who travelled to Yukon for COVID vaccine ineligible for 2nd dose until summer

The province is ensuring those eligible to receive the vaccine get the second shot within 42 days

(File)
Mask dispute in court leaves Vancouver cop with broken leg

Man allegedly refused to put on a mask and resisted arrest

(Kraft Dinner/Twitter)
Kraft Dinner launches candy-flavoured mac and cheese just in time for Valentine’s Day

Sweet and cheesy treat will be here just in time for the cheesiest holiday of the year

Extensive water on No. 4 and 5 at the Mount Brenton Golf Course following heavy rains earlier this month. (Photo submitted)
Island golf course does a booming business in 2020

A total of 15,000 more rounds played than the previous year at Mount Brenton

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

SAR crews worked late into the night Tuesday to rescue an injured snowboarder in North Vancouver. (Facebook/North Shore Rescue)
Complicated, dangerous rescue saves man in avalanche near Cypress Mountain

North Shore SAR team braves considerable conditions to reach injured snowboarder

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
UPDATE: No sign of small plane that went down in waters south of Vancouver Island

Searchers out on both sides of border between Victoria and Port Angeles

A tip from the public helped Victoria police located and arrest wanted men Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Tips lead police to arrest convicted killer, robber near downtown Victoria

Two men were at large after failing to return to community facility

Most Read