As COVID-19 continues to spread, many of the stores Texans rely on for their day-to-day needs are seeing empty shelves. With the public stocking up on items such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and canned food items, many stores are having trouble keeping up with the increased demand.
Millions of Texans rely on their local H-E-B grocery store to meet the needs of their families. Some are worried they will not be able to find what they need in the coming days and weeks.
It’s the topic of discussion on social media, and in local community groups. Individuals are posting in places like Nextdoor to ask their neighbors if any of the local H-E-Bs have stock on various items, and how busy the stores are. Some have even taken to Twitter to complain, sharing pictures of other shoppers’ carts and requesting limits be imposed.
In an effort to make products available to all customers, H-E-B has imposed purchase limits on key product categories including toilet paper, hand soap, and water. Current purchase limits can be found on the H-E-B website. The list is updated as limits are added or removed.
When asked about the shortages of some products, H-E-B public affairs specialist Johnny Mojica said, “Customers shouldn’t panic, we continue to restock shelves. We encourage preparedness, not stockpiling. Please buy what you need and leave some for your neighbor behind you.”
Mojica added, “H-E-B has been preparing for COVID-19 and we are in a strong position to keep replenishing shelves. Today alone H-E-B has 1,400 trailers full of product on the road making deliveries to our stores across Texas.”
H-E-B has implemented shortened hours for its stores around the state because “shortened hours allow H-E-B Partners to work diligently overnight to fully prepare the store for customers during the day.”
As of this past Saturday, H-E-B stores are only open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. until further notice.
Additionally, H-E-B posted several temporary overnight and daytime stocker job positions on their website this past Saturday. The job descriptions indicate that the positions are expected to last between 30 and 60 days, and pay up to $15 an hour.
It appears the bottleneck in the supply chain is not a shortage of needed products, but the process of getting those products to store shelves.
On Saturday, the governor’s office announced that some trucking regulations would be suspended.
Governor Abbott said in a statement, “Suspending these state trucking regulations will improve our ability to deliver the necessary supplies throughout the state so that grocers and retailers are able to continually stock their shelves.” Abbott continued, “I want to remind Texans that stockpiling resources is neither necessary nor productive. The State of Texas is prepared and will continue to take action to support our communities.”
Additionally, H-E-B’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has gone beyond stocking their own stores.
A statement posted to the H-E-B Facebook account said, “We are working diligently to design multiple innovative solutions for seniors and all Texans to access the products they need with limited public interaction. You will see us practice social distancing in our stores and sanitize at a very high frequency.”
To help Texans follow the current recommendations for social distancing, H-E-B began waiving fees on their next day curbside grocery delivery ordering service. They are also working to increase their capacity for both curbside and home delivery services.
Additionally, H-E-B has given $3 million to support nonprofit organizations helping vulnerable communities and conducting research.
Winell Herron, H-E-B’s group vice president of public affairs, said in a statement, “During these trying times, H-E-B is here for Texas, now, more than ever, H-E-B is keeping with our Spirit of Giving and Helping Here philosophies to do everything we can to support our fellow Texans.”
Katie Fisher is a licensed attorney and writer with a broad range of political, private sector, and ministry experience. A California transplant, Katie earned her J.D. at the age of 21 from Oak Brook College of Law, subsequently passing the bar exam and going into private law practice. Texas became home when she moved to Houston to serve as the Deputy Director of Delegate Operations for the 2016 Cruz for President campaign. She currently resides in the Austin area with her husband and daughter.