Navigating Thanksgiving During the Pandemic

Sacramento Natural Foods Rick Kilby

With California’s new stricter mandates, it’s hard to know what to expect or what could change before the Thanksgiving holiday. We have been checking in with retailers to see how they are preparing for what can only be described as a wildly unprecedented time. Rick Kilby, Produce Manager at Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op expects an increase in volume as customers prepare to shelter at home while celebrating Thanksgiving. The 46,000-square-foot store is prepared to quickly implement crowd control, providing a safe shopping experience for customers. Rick shares his tips and insight on how to navigate the holiday during the pandemic.

  • Labor and Staffing: Schedule labor hours evenly throughout your store from now through Thanksgiving. Typically, normal holiday scheduling is concentrated on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Rick expects customers to spread their shopping out over the week before and the week of Thanksgiving, even extending to the days after Thanksgiving.
  • Pre-Made Holiday Meals: Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op is open on Thanksgiving Day. Their kitchen is offering pre-orders for full holiday meals for pick-up that are ready to be set on the table. This is the first year they have offered this service and they hope that this will be beneficial to their customers who want to enjoy the full Thanksgiving meal experience without having to battle crowds to shop for it. This will also serve the customers that are fatigued from all the cooking they are doing while being home and not traveling, or able to share preparations with extended family.
  • Plan Ahead: Good communication with your suppliers is key. To make sure you have your product needs covered you need to have great transparency and planning with your suppliers. The further ahead of time you can project what you will need helps them source or save product for you. Consider a backup supply for product in case your planned source falls through. The weather around Thanksgiving is always tricky and can sometimes put a damper on your original plans. Coordinate and communicate often with local farms and wholesalers are early as you can.
  • High Demand Items: This time of year, celery is in high demand and flying off the shelf so don’t waste valuable labor prepping this item. Make sure to add more convenience items. This year, Sacramento Natural Foods will be pre-packing most of their items so customers can just grab a bag and go. This makes customers feel more confident that the product they are purchasing hasn’t been touched by the general public.
  • Execute Administrative Duties Early: Do all the administrative work you can before the week of Thanksgiving. Complete schedules, POS, pricing, payroll, and anything office related to free up your time to work the floor and to back up your team.

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