Spooked by virus rumors, shoppers make run on local supplies

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Brian Osmanski, the new manager of the Hy-Vee in Perry, denied Saturday that panic shopping was occurring, but several employees of the store said Thursday and Friday saw big spikes in sales, and extra labor was called into service to meet the demand.

The steady drumbeat of virus news, including U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration Friday of a national emergency, has caused a spasm of panic shopping among consumers nationwide, with Perry’s local grocers also seeing the effects of a run on local supplies.

Brian Osmanski, the new manager of the Hy-Vee in Perry, denied Saturday that panic shopping was occurring, but several employees of the store said Thursday and Friday saw big spikes in sales, and extra labor was called into service to meet the demand.

Workers at the Fareway store in Perry reported a similar frenzy of consumer activity in the last few days. Among the popular products are bread, pasta and hygiene essentials, such as toilet paper, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizers.

Hy-Vee employees themselves might feel they have reason to panic in light of the rapid changes the company has gone through in recent weeks. The West Des Moines-based grocer operates more than 265 stores in eight Midwestern states. Hy-Vee employed some 84,000 workers in 2018 and had annual sales of more than $10 billion, according to Wikipedia.

In mid-February, Hy-Vee’s corporate office announced the end of 24-hour operations, a move toward “efficiency” that promised “promotions, reallocations or reductions” for workers. Most of the company’s dieticians have been reassigned or let go, and a management restructuring involving regional directors, store directors and store managers saw a thinning of the ranks.

In addition, the company recently announced the impending closure of its four fulfillment centers — in Urbandale, Kansas City, Omaha and Eagan, Minnesota — and this spring will see the Market Grille locations remodeled into Wahlburgers restaurants.

With all these changes, a rumor was bound to crop up that all full-time workers were to be forced either to accept part-time employment or be fired. No such changes have occurred, however, and the friendly smiles still fill all aisles.

ThePerryNews.com will update this story as information becomes available.

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