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Business Observer Tuesday, Sep. 27, 2022 2 months ago

Publix, Walmart, others closing stores, cutting hours as storm nears

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The area’s two largest grocers are closing nearly 330 locations between them as Hurricane Ian gets close to landfall. More closings are likely to follow.
by: Louis Llovio Commercial Real Estate Editor

This article was updated at 4:25 p.m. with new information from Publix, Winn-Dixie, Whole Foods and The Fresh Market.

Time to pick up groceries may be running short.

Grocery chains with stores across Southwest Florida are starting to adjust closing times and making plans for the next couple of days as they try to balance the needs of customers and employees.

Publix Super Markets, as of 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, had already modified hours at 282 stores from Weeki Wachee south to Key West and set up a website where shoppers can get a better idea of when their particular store will close and how long it will stay closed for. Most stores shut down at 6 p.m. Tuesday and are expected to reopen 7 a.m. Friday.

According to a Publix spokeswoman, all the stores in Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pasco and Sarasota Counties were to close the 27th at 5 p.m. Three stores in Pinellas County on or near beaches closed at 3 p.m.  

Polk County stores will close at 3 p.m. Wednesday and reopen Friday morning.

“Please keep in mind, hours may be adjusted, and the status of individual stores are subject to change based on Hurricane Ian’s track and projected impacts,” Hannah Herring a media relations manager at Publix says in an email. “As always, our priority remains on the safety of our associates, customers and communities.”

Walmart, as of about 4:20 p.m. Tuesday, had already closed 43 Walmart Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Sam’s Club locations from Tampa south to Naples. 

It too created a website for customers to track closings.

Charles Crowson, the director of Walmart’s press office, says the company has been following the storm’s track for the past several days to make sure stores are prepared. He says as the company continues to assess probable impact zones and is temporarily closing stores.

 “Regarding the loss of power and reopening after the storm’s passing, we’re actively taking steps now to give us the best opportunity to resume operations once it’s safe to do so,” he says.

Aside from Publix and Walmart, several other chains are also shutting down for Ian.

The Fresh Market announced it was closing its stores at 5 p.m. Tuesday and will keep them closed Wednesday. A spokeswoman says the chain will be “evaluating each day as the storm progresses.”

“We will reopen our stores when it is safe to do so.”

Winn-Dixie and Whole Foods also say they will be closing at some point and asked shoppers to check their respective websites for more details.

“We will continue to stock our stores and keep them open as long as we can, keeping in mind the safety of our associates,” Winn-Dixie’s parent company, Southeastern Grocers, says in a statement. “We put people first, and we’ll use safety as our first and most important guideline when making decisions about store closures and resupplying our stores.” 

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