CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) -- As people flock to retailers to stock up on supplies amid the COVID-19 pandemic, going to the grocery store is becoming more stressful.
Many stores are crawling with customers who are panic shopping, while others are seeing big shortages and empty shelves. As a result, some people, including at-risk shoppers, aren't getting what they need.
Grocery chains across the country and in eastern Iowa are dedicating one hour of shopping to older customers and those with medical conditions.
Hy-Vee announced their special shopping time nearly two weeks ago. The chain is dedicating their first hour, every day from 7 to 8 a.m., to customers who are 60 years and older, soon-to-be moms and anyone with underlying health conditions.
The goal is to help customers feel calmer and safer while they're shopping.
District Store Director, Lucas Glasgow, said the Cedar Falls location is seeing about 200 to 300 customers a day during the new early window.
He said people have been appreciative.
"I've gotten more thank you's for this 7 to 8 shopping hour than honestly a lot of things we've done," he explained. "Every morning, someone stops me in the aisles, thanking for opening and then also thanking for what we're doing in the store to keep our shelves stocked."
Glasgow reminds shoppers there are plenty of supplies to go around for everyone. He discourages people from hoarding groceries.
"You know, there's really no reason to buy six to eight weeks supply," He said. "In fact, it's really easier on the supply chain if everyone buys what they need for four to seven days."
To prevent the spread of germs, employees at Hy-Vee are cleaning shopping carts throughout the day and at night. The Cedar Falls store has also implemented a sanitation station, where customers can grab disinfectant wipes and cleaner.