SPAR stores help communities during Coronavirus Pandemic

With Somerset facing the coronavirus outbreak, Vitality Blast Partners SPAR have faced a huge challenge over the last few weeks. We take a look at how stores throughout the South West have come to the rescue in droves for their local communities.

Never has the SPAR slogan ‘There For You’ been more apt than in some of the actions being taken by caring SPAR store staff for customers across the region, which has a higher proportion of people aged over 65 than some other parts of the UK.

Mike Boardman, Managing Director of Appleby Westward was full of praise for the efforts of South West retailers in looking after the needs of their locals. “SPAR retailers have shown once again the vitally important role their stores play in local communities, supporting the needs of their customers and ensuring essential neighbourhood services are maintained throughout this emergency,” he said.

Across the region, stories of community support by SPAR retailers have been emerging daily. At stores in Pewsey and Tidworth, Wiltshire run by the Connolly family, a free home delivery service was launched for anyone self-isolating or diagnosed with COVID-19. “My family has been in business for nearly 60 years and has seen many emergencies in that time, although nothing like this,” said Susan Connolly. “We are supporting our community when they need us most, trying to source as many items as we can for our elderly customers.”

The store has appealed to customers to donate non-perishable food which the store will donate to vulnerable people in the locality. Cleaning routines have been increased, disinfecting door handles, baskets and other touch points every three hours. Growing numbers of stores have also been offering free home deliveries throughout the region.

As well as offering home deliveries, Paul and Tom Hawtree’s Riverside Garage and Marnhull stores in Dorset have also introduced regular routine deep cleaning including checkouts, baskets, ATM and other key touch points. Customers have been advised to use the disposable gloves provided on the forecourt and keep up to date with Government advice.

At St. Agnes, store owner Amanda James said advice had been given to staff on hygiene, and restrictions were placed on sales of toilet rolls and other items immediately bulk buying started in supermarkets. “We did this to protect our elderly customers so that they could still easily buy essential everyday supplies,” she said.

On Mondays, Nathan Crowle has earmarked 7am-9am opening at his store at Stithians near Truro for over 65s only. The post office section is opening at 8am enabling more vulnerable people to access essential services. “I also want to encourage anyone over 65 wanting to visit the shop daily to use the first hour as it is our quietest window,” he said.

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