Coronavirus Florida: Publix to close retail stores at 8 p.m. nightly starting March 14
Attention, shoppers: Your friendly neighborhood Publix needs time to restock.
The Lakeland-based grocery store giant issued a statement Friday night amid the coronavirus news:
"To better serve our customers, give our store teams time to conduct additional preventive sanitation and restock product on our shelves, beginning Saturday, March 14 we will adjust store and pharmacy hours companywide to close at 8 p.m. until further notice."
The early closure announcement did not address the Publix Greenwise Markets in Tallahassee, Boca Raton, Lakeland, Alabama and South Carolina. According to greenwisemarket.com, the Tallahassee location closes at 11 p.m. nightly, and the two other Florida sites close at 10 p.m. nightly.
Social media reaction was swift Friday night with many praising the grocery chain and their local Publix and others lamenting at the lack of toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other supplies. Photos from readers show empty shelves in the cleaning aisle and empty produce bins as well.
With coronavirus cases increasing in the U.S., the grocery chain was not immune to panic buying. The novel coronavirus sparked a nationwide shopping frenzy. Publix's decision to close their stores two hours early was announced the same day Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered all Florida public schools to extend spring break closures.
Publix has more than 830 stores in Florida, with over 1,200 in the southern U.S.
Other stores are also looking to adjust their hours to clean.
Walmart, the world's largest retailer, said it might trim hours at 24-hour locations to give the company more time to clean stores.
"We are evaluating whether to modify store hours at some 24-hour facilities to allow for additional cleaning," Walmart said in a statement.
Winn Dixie issued a statement saying they have seen a supply disruption on hand sanitizers and household cleaners, and have very limited availability in stores. The grocery store is asking customers to limit their purchases
All Wegmans locations will close overnight to allow the stores to be cleaned and items to restocked, the New York-based supermarket chain announced Friday, saying the temporary change was in response to high demand.