Local businesses deal with shift in shopping patterns

The Associated Press   A shopper loads boxes of items into the back of his sports-utility vehicle outside a Costco warehouse in Aurora, Colo.

Local stores that remain open are seeing monumental increases in sales.

Chain stories such as Wegmans and Tops Friendly Markets have seen universal shortages on items like paper towels, toilet paper, and bottled water. Starting on March 19, all Tops Friendly Markets have designated Tuesdays and Thursday from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. as specific days for people who are 60 years and older to shop in their stores.

Tops has also reduced its hours to 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in order to restock their stories as well as maintain the increased sanitation levels in their stores. These new hours also apply to Tops Fuel locations as well. These revised hours will be in effect until further notice. Since larger grocery stores have been impacted quite heavily from the pandemic, there has been a trickle down effect on smaller grocers in the area. One in particular being Latina Importing on Pine Avenue, which has been just as busy as holiday time according to store manager Mike Cimino.

He said Latina’s is seeing about 50-60 new customers a day. These, he said, are people who would normally go to big chain grocery stores that might not have known about his store. Unlike other grocery stores, Latina’s has not had any supply issues, which Cimino is grateful for. However, despite the strong growth in sales, Cimino has found this to be more of a mixed blessing.

“I’ll tell you one thing, for the local businesses and the smaller stores like us, it’s absolutely fantastic but not fantastic,” Cimino said. “If they wanted to give us a pandemic like three times a year, it’s great for business but it’s not great when people are just scared shopping. I mean they are just loading up. They’re buying stuff they don’t normally buy this time of year.”

Some items that fall into the category Cimino mentioned are pasta, canned goods and macaroni. He said these are items that people purchase more around Thanksgiving or the winter holiday season. Rather than buying one or two boxes of macaroni and cheese, he has seen people buying six or seven boxes of it. Cimino said since people began stockpiling groceries, there’s been a 75 percent increase in sales as compared to this time of year in the past. Though it is amazing he said, it is quite overwhelming.

Other local businesses that have been impacted by this pandemic are DiCamillo’s. According to Michael DiCamillo, business has been busier than ever.

For his ingredient supply line, there have not been any problems. In their stores, they are out of milk but that has since been remedied. DiCamillo has found there are some He said the biggest problem he is facing is increasing the level of production to that of which people are expecting.

“Bread has been the biggest thing this weekend,” DiCamillo said. “There was really quite a rush and we did sell out several times during the day. We’re in good stock now. But, bread has been the issues, but that’s basically what people have been coming to us for. And whether you’ve experienced the shortage that we had during most of the day.”

Much like Latina’s, he had seen his business change radically as compared to the time of year in the past. Since the restaurant business has been wiped out due to state level restrictions which only allow for delivery. Items like essentials and seasonal based items have not sold as well, though. Considering this is a busy period, DiCamillo said, with the spring holidays and summer months coming up, the business could see a mild decline.

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