Of all times, why is Cub Foods now running stores around-the-clock?

Discussion
Source: Cub Foods
Apr 22, 2020
George Anderson

Cub Foods will operate many of its locations 24 hours a day when many supermarkets have reduced store hours to give associates time to restock shelves and prepare for a constant stream of customers stocking up on everyday essentials.

The grocer, which had cut store hours from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. last month in response to the coronavirus outbreak, will keep 11 locations open around-the-clock in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. These are in addition to 13 other stores that Cub continued to operate 24 hours a day throughout the pandemic.

As to the why behind its decision, Cub management believes that expanded hours will serve the dual purpose of spreading out traffic at its stores, thereby making them safer for customers and staff, and giving associates greater flexibility in scheduling shifts that match their personal needs and those of their families. The chain will continue to offer older customers and those with underlying health conditions the option of shopping by themselves at 6:00 a.m. each day.

“Consumers expect grocery stores to be there for them, and in times of a natural disaster, we’re the last to close and the first to open,” Cub CEO Mike Stigers told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “That’s a responsibility we take seriously, and that’s why our work is essential now.”

Cub is looking to add 1,000 associates to its stores by the end of the month to address increased demand. The chain is paying a $2 an hour premium for hourly employees and is offering double hourly pay for overtime hours worked.

United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI), which acquired Cub as part of the Supervalu deal in 2018, has been looking to divest the chain since the retailing operation doesn’t fit with the company’s grocery wholesale focus.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of Cub Foods’ decision to keep some of its stores operating around-the-clock when many grocers have reduced hours of operation? Do you think other supermarkets will begin expanding store hours?

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"In these times people would rather shop when the store is empty and this gives them the option if they really must go. "

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14 Comments on "Of all times, why is Cub Foods now running stores around-the-clock?"


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Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

Now that supply chain issues are being resolved and sanitation and social distancing rules have been established in grocery stores, you are going to begin to see stores expanding their business hours as states/cities/municipalities begin to reopen their economy.

Art Suriano
Guest

Cub Foods keeping some stores open 24 hours is smart for a couple of reasons. 1.) It will help serve customers who prefer shopping at off-peak times. 2.) It will test the waters for how the rest of the chain will reopen. 3.) It will show Cub Foods how customers will respond. Every day we are receiving tons of information about the virus as it is today as well as its origins and potential future. The problem is within the information we collect, there is a lot of conflict — experts do not agree with other experts. We have to move slowly, but we also have to find ways of getting this country reopened. I find Cub Foods providing an answer with the wise move of testing it themselves by opening a handful of stores 24/7. If it doesn’t prove successful they will not continue the practice but, if it does, I would expect them to gradually open more stores 24/7 until the chain is back to normal.

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

Cub Foods’ reasoning makes sense and the grocery industry is doing the public a tremendous service with offering options like this — not to mention employing more associates. Right now, everything is about reducing density.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Giving customers the opportunity to shop when there is the highest likelihood of the lowest density of shoppers actually makes sense. They’ve got people in the stores anyway working on the restocking, so put a couple of cashiers up front and let people shop in solitude. My guess is they tested this scenario and found that it worked for all parties. At this point, all retail has to be about constantly probing and testing for new ways to execute.

Bethany Allee
BrainTrust

Catering to a public where many folks are now on non-traditional schedules is a way to remove density and better serve customer needs. Other supermarkets will follow suit. In Texas, many of our grocery stores will start to offer expanded hours next week. Expanded hours work well for congested areas, but they are not cost beneficial to retailers in rural areas, nor do they add tremendous benefit to those customers.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

I actually think it could work out well. It is giving people a choice. In these times people would rather shop when the store is empty and this gives them the option if they really must go. If they include 24 hour BOPIS that would be a winning combination given these slots are so hard to come by. Grocery stores are essential in these times and adding choice is a benefit to the consumer.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

While I am in favor of supermarkets going to all pick-up and no one in the store, I believe this is a worthy experiment.

Suresh Chaganti
BrainTrust
Suresh Chaganti
Co-Founder and Executive Partner, VectorScient
4 months 28 days ago

I am not sure how this would help. Density reduction is possible even with reduced hours – customers will shop more, in-store traffic has already thinned out using various rules. I don’t think we have new information available that suggests this is a smart option.

A semblance of normality is what everyone wants, but let’s remember why grocery stores started with reduced hours – the extra time required to sanitize and clean. I hope those protocols are not diluted in this case, since there is no formal oversight from health departments.

Harley Feldman
BrainTrust

Opening some Cub stores 24 hours per day is a good idea to spread out the customer base into more hours and offer times when shoppers feel more comfortable shopping with smaller crowds. Since I am a Cub shopper, I have noticed they are doing more stocking during the day to keep up with increased demand. This 24-hour opening will also give them more stocking hours while still allowing customers to shop. I am not sure that other grocers will follow. Some Cub stores have always had 24-hour operations so this is not a new move for them. Others will likely keep their hours limited.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

This is all about convenience; accessibility to the customer 24 hours a day. We are now forced to reduce the number of people we can have in the store. We must practice social distancing. So what better alternative than to shop when it’s less crowded — in the middle of the night. I asked a few people and they said they’d be happy to shop at 1 a.m. if they knew there would be hardly anyone in the store. They feel safer, and that creates confidence.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

When you think about “essential workers,” especially healthcare providers, they may be working second or third shift (or 12-hour shifts) without the ability to buy their groceries during limited daytime hours. In a sense, Cub is doing these workers a favor by staying open 24/7 — provided that they have the necessary safety protocols in place.

Mel Kleiman
BrainTrust

When everyone is going to the right it sometimes pays to go to the left. This is a very smart move. It should give them a competitive advantage when it comes to serving their customers and their employees.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

It makes a certain amount of sense, as long as we’re willing to accept the idea that a meaningful number of people will want to shop at, say 3:45 AM. How they’re handling the stocking issues, which of course has been the rationale for reduced hours, I don’t know … maybe it’s a hopeful sign that the shortages are easing?

Shikha Jain
BrainTrust

While putting the consumer (and employees) first looked like reduced store hours a month ago, that’s no longer the case as the pandemic drags on, and Cub has anticipated that. They’re simply the first brave ones in this case. As pandemic life becomes the new normal, grocers will have to adapt. As others have pointed out, the rest of the industry will likely follow, but for the time being, shoppers will take their business to the place that has convenient hours and shorter queues. Additionally, they’ll feel safer, taken care of, with many concerns around social distancing alleviated by the 24/7 schedule.

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Braintrust
"In these times people would rather shop when the store is empty and this gives them the option if they really must go. "

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