Retailers take aggressive action on COVID-19

Mike Troy
Editorial Director
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Kroger employees are among those receiving bonuses for the exceptional efforts during a time of national crisis.

Retailers are increasing wages, paying bonuses, amending leave policies and announcing aggressive hiring plans as the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold and send the industry further into uncharted territory. Here’s a look at major announcements from some of the industry’s biggest players including Walmart, Amazon, Albertsons, Kroger, Target and Dollar General.

Here’s who’s doing what:

  • Amazon previously announced plans to hire an additional 100,000 employees and over the weekend CEO Jeff Bezos wrote an open letter urging laid off restaurant workers to apply. “We’re hiring for 100,000 new roles and raising wages for our hourly workers who are fulfilling orders and delivering to customers during this period of stress and turmoil,” Bezos wrote. “At the same time, other businesses like restaurants and bars are being forced to shut their doors. We hope people who’ve been laid off will come work with us until they’re able to go back to the jobs they had.” Bezos also said that Amazon is immediately changing its logistics, transportation, supply chain, purchasing and third party seller processes “to prioritize stocking and delivering essential items like household staples, sanitizers, baby formula, and medical supplies.”
  • Walmart announced plans to hire 150,000 employees across a range of position types and also said it would pay bonuses of $300 for full-time hourly associates and $150 for part-time hourly associates that would total more than $365 million. In addition to that special bonus for hourly associates, the company accelerated the next scheduled quarterly bonus for store, club and supply chain associates a month early. The company will pay those bonuses as if the company achieved its first quarter plan. “Walmart associates have gone above and beyond the call of duty in serving our customers during these unprecedented times,” said Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart. “We want to reward our associates for their hard work and recognize them for the work that is in front of us. We know millions of Americans who are usually employed at this time are temporarily out of work, and at the same time we’re currently seeing strong demand in our stores. We’re looking for people who see Walmart as a chance to earn some extra money and perform a vital service to their community.”
  • Kroger announced a one-time bonus to every hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing and customer service associate, amounting to $300 for every full-time associate and $150 for every part-time associate. “Grocery workers are on the frontlines, ensuring Americans have access to the food and products they need during this unprecedented pandemic," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO. "Our associates are working around the clock to keep our stores open for our customers. The true heroes in this story are our associates, and we want to provide them with additional resources and support to help them continue their remarkable effort."
  • Albertsons announced a temporary $2 an hour pay increases as part of an Appreciation Pay program for employees such as pickers and drivers, store, distribution center and manufacturing plant associates. “In ways that we could not even imagine, overnight, our country changed – and as a result it changed the way our teams conduct business,” said Vivek Sankaran, Albertsons president and CEO. “I am so proud to say our teams did not skip a step. In our manufacturing plants, distribution centers and in our stores, our associates are working tirelessly to serve our customers.” The increase is effective March 15-28 and affects roughly 230,000 employees. The company also waived pharmacy delivery fees.
  • Target increased its hourly wages by $2 through May 2. “"We continue to experience incredible demand across our business, and Target's ability to help our guests in this unprecedented time would not be possible without the strength of our team. I am proud and humbled by the dedication and humanity they show to our guests every day," said Brian Cornell, CEO of Target. Target also said for the first time ever this April it would pay out bonuses to 20,000 hourly store team leads who oversee departments ranging from $250 to $1,500.
  • Dollar General said it would nearly double its normal hiring rate by adding up to 50,000 employees by the end of April. The company operates more than 16,300 stores and said it expects most of the jobs to be temporary. “We are proud to serve as one of America’s essential retailers, and we believe our customers are relying on us now more than ever to provide an affordable, convenient retail option,” said Kathy Reardon, Dollar General’s senior vice president and chief people officer.
  • Walgreens said it is looking to fill 9,500 positions and announced plans to make bonus payments of $300 for full-time and $150 for part-time workers in stores and distribution center beginning in late April. “Our store team members are working incredibly hard, in a very challenging and uncertain time and we’re grateful for all they do each day,” said Walgreens President, Richard Ashworth.
  • 7-Eleven said it expects to hire as many as 20,000 new store employees in the near future to meet increased demand for 7-Eleven products and services amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "7-Eleven is a neighborhood store and it's our priority to serve the communities in which we operate during this unprecedented crisis," said 7-Eleven president and CEOfficer Joe DePinto.