'Golden shopping hour': Sobeys in Edmonton sets trend for dedicated shopping for seniors

Some Sobeys grocery stores across Canada have adopted a bright idea from Edmonton, rolling out special dedicated shopping hours for seniors and people with mobility issues during the coronavirus pandemic.

The idea was the brainchild of Jerry MacLachlan, owner-operator of Sobeys Belmont in northeast Edmonton.

“The store started to get busier and busier,” MacLachlan told CBC on Friday. “I saw that the seniors were starting to be left behind, folks with mobility concerns were left by the wayside.”

MacLachlan said the plan for the “golden shopping hour” came together with help from his staff.

“Seniors’ years,  they’re supposed to be golden, right? So we thought we’d take them from the bottom of the deck and put them on the top of the deck.”

The idea picked up momentum through social media and caught the attention of corporate leaders within Sobeys.

“Starting this Friday, many of our stores will be devoting the first hour of operations to those most vulnerable and require extra attention, particularly seniors,” Michael Medline, president and CEO of Sobeys, said on Twitter.

The company has more than 1,500 stores across Canada.

Paul LaFleur stocks shelves at Sobeys – Belmont in Edmonton on Friday. (David Bajer/CBC)

“When we put the idea on our Facebook page we had no idea what would happen and it went viral,” MacLachlan said.

The idea has expanded beyond Canada with grocery stores in country’s such as Australia coming up with something similar, he said.

“Kindness is kind of rare right now,”he said. “We’re in a real bad state, we’re all trying to find our way, there’s anxiety and such.”

Customers are appreciating this extra effort with staff having to “fight off hugs,” he said. (Hugs, of course, are off-limits during the pandemic.)

“I love it, it’s a great idea,” golden-hour shopper Ken Glubish said Friday at the Sobeys in Belmont. “There’s lots of stuff here compared to other places that I’ve tried throughout the past week or so.”

Ron Bratton said he was able to get almost everything he needed during his shop.

An hour set aside specifically for seniors does help make things easier, Bratton added. “It’s very good.”

The Belmont Sobeys shopping hour for seniors and those with mobility issues will happen every day from 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.

Warehouse workers and other staff are putting in extra hours to make sure store shelves are restocked, MacLachlan said.

There’s no need for panic, he said. “The supply chain is strong.”

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