Grocery store employees say 85% of customers are not practicing social distancing, survey finds

30 union grocery store workers have died from COVID-19, UFCW says

Generic grocery store image (Pixabay)

SAN ANTONIO – A survey of more than 5,000 grocery and food workers highlights the growing concerns of those employees who say that 85% of customers are not practicing social distancing.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents more than 900,000 grocery workers, conducted the survey which also found that 81% of employees said customers are hoarding supplies and groceries.

According to a press release from the UFCW, 30 union members have died from COVID-19, 1,500 have been infected and nearly 3,000 UFCW workers have been directly impacted by the coronavirus.

“The coronavirus pandemic represents the greatest health and safety crisis that America’s grocery and food workers have ever faced. Since the beginning of the outbreak, these workers have been on the front lines of this terrible pandemic,” said UFCW President Marc Perrone.

Workers said 29% of customers treated them “somewhat poorly” or “very poorly,” the survey results show.

“While tens of millions of Americans were told to work from home for their safety, grocery store and food workers have never had that option,” said Perrone.

The survey also found that 62% of workers said customers are blaming employees for shortages and 43% reported instances of customers shouting at employees.

According to the press release, food and grocery workers were asked how they would improve customer safety and treatment of workers and this is what they said:

  • 72% supported a limit on the number of customers in stores
  • 49% supported stores banning unruly customers
  • 41% supported stores hiring more security
  • 26% supported stores hiring more workers to meet demand
  • 23% supported advertisements with customer safety tips

“Grocery workers are deeply concerned. The fact is that this pandemic represents a clear and present danger to our nation’s food supply and all grocery store workers. The ‘Shop Smart’ campaign will help save lives by making clear that all members of the public can take key safety steps to help protect these workers and each other from the coronavirus,” Perrone said.

How you can help

The UFCW is asking the public to pledge to #ShopSmart during COVID-19 by doing the following:

  • Wear a mask inside stores that covers your nose and mouth.
  • Always keep 6 feet between yourself and others.
  • Never toss gloves on the floor or leave them in a cart. Always dispose of them in a trash can.

*The survey has a one percent margin of error and a 95% confidence level, according to the UFCW.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

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About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.