Harris Teeter reducing hours to manage labor amid 'difficult employment environment'

It seems the days of the 24-hour grocery store operation could soon become a distant "remember when..."

When the state and the country went into a lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic, stores had altered hours and rearranged their operating structure amid a constant sea of change in local, state and federal mandates.

Grocery stores were not immune.

One of North Carolina's most popular grocery chains, Harris Teeter, just announced effective Sept. 15, all locations will have temporary hours of 6 a.m. through 9 p.m. until further notice.

"I think people here are trying to be careful," said one shopper at Raleigh's Brier Creek Harris Teeter, who only wanted to be identified as Tony. He told ABC11 that he prefers shopping during the day to avoid the crowds and limit any possible exposure to the virus.

In a statement sent to ABC11, Harris Teeter representatives said the reason for the reduction was: "We believe closing our stores earlier will allow our valued associates to: take their earned days off; efficiently process ExpressLane orders; manage labor in this difficult employment environment; ensure excellent closings to better prepare for the following day; and make certain that our stores are a clean, safe place to work and shop."

Despite the statement, many businesses across the state are having to alter their hours due to a worker shortage.

Recently, Publix stores around the Triangle have been announcing they will be closing early as well.

"For me, it's not frustrating if you just set the expectation I know I need to be out here a little earlier," said Jessica Carter. "But when I think about the longer impact of things of all the stores in the area are starting to do the same thing, I think that's when it would start to become frustrating eventually."

ABC11 has reached out to Publix for comment.

Other major chains such as Lowes, Wegmans and Food Lion have said they will not be adjusting their hours.

Lowes: "At this time we do not have plans to reduce hours in all of our stores. We do from time to time make changes on a store by store basis."

Wegmans: "Our current hours of operation are 6 a.m. to midnight. We have no plans to change our hours at this time."

Food Lion: "At this time, we do not have any plans to change our hours of operation. Our associates are committed to doing everything they can to safely nourish their neighbors."

To read more on Harris Teeter's adjusted operations, you can visit their COVID-19 response page.

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