Grocery stores and other essential retailers look to ramp up their workforce as unemployment looms for many.

By Tim Nelson
March 23, 2020
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The coronavirus has fundamentally altered daily life for a majority of people around the globe. While many have to adjust to working from home or homeschooling their kids, millions of “non-essential” businesses and restaurant employees are filing for unemployment or at least very concerned about when (or if) their next paycheck is coming. It’s a difficult, unprecedented, and scary situation all around.

Though it certainly won’t be enough to offset the hardships so many will face in the weeks and months ahead, some of the places that have seen an uptick in business since the onset of the pandemic are signaling their intent to hire more employees. As you’d imagine, most of them are grocery stores and other retailers whose services could be considered relatively essential. Without further ado, here’s a running (and updating) list of some places who plan to bring on more employees in the near future, with additional details about the hiring process where possible.

Walmart, already America’s largest private employer, announced its intention to bring on 150,000 new hourly associates between now and the end of May. The roles would range from working in Walmart stores to its distribution and fulfillment centers. Dan Bartlett, the company’s EVP of Corporate Affairs, says that it plans to streamline its hiring process to complete hiring “within hours” of applications. Bartlett notes the company hopes to reach out to those in the restaurant and hospitality sector who have lost work, offering temporary jobs that might “morph into full-time jobs” over time. Additionally, the company plans to offer $550 million in cash bonuses to reward its workers.

Kroger, the U.S.’ largest grocery chain (if Walmart is excluded) says it hired 2,000 new employees between March 10 and March 17 and still has somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 openings.

“We’re hiring every day,” Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen told CNBC on Tuesday, March 17. “We have relationships with several different other industries where they’re directing their people to us. We have a ton of openings.”

7-Eleven, which is a sort of grocer in a way, announced that it expects to hire as many as 20,000 new employees “in the coming months” to keep pace with demand, according to an emailed press release. The company expects a surge in orders through its 7NOW delivery app, and a percentage of the new hires would certainly handle those. “This will provide job opportunities and ensure 7-Eleven stores remain clean and in-stock with the goods our customers need during this critical time,” President and CEO Joe Depinto said.

With more people avoiding the outside world and eating at home, the coronavirus has provided something of a lift to struggling meal delivery service Blue Apron. Though exact numbers on their hiring needs aren’t yet available, MarketWatch reports that the company is looking for both temporary and permanent employees at its fulfillment centers in Linden, New Jersey, and Richmond, California.

Though it doesn’t enjoy a great reputation in terms of how it treats its workers, Amazon is hiring 100,000 to staff its fulfillment centers. Additionally, all employees will receive a $2 an hour pay raise through the end of April. That includes its Whole Foods grocery stores.

Domino’s, which is currently offering a 50% discount for online and app orders through at least March 22, also is ramping up hiring to meet delivery and carryout demand. They’re looking to bring on 10,000 new employees in roles ranging from delivery drivers to pizza makers to managers.

As more people are staying home for breakfast, Kellogg’s— at least in the UK— plans to ramp up production to keep pace. According to the Manchester Evening News, the cereal company is “urgently looking for additional staff” at its production facility in Trafford Park. No word yet on whether or not Kellogg’s or its competitors are expanding hiring in the US, but it’s a definite possibility in the near future.

Expect more updates on this front in the days ahead as more companies that can remain open look to ramp up staffing. With unemployment expected to surge as businesses shuttering, there should be no shortage of people looking to fill these roles. Of course, it’s no substitute for the real economic relief currently being discussed by the federal government, especially because relying on this work potentially exposes employees to elevated health risks. But in the absence of a stronger social safety net, these jobs can hopefully help out those in need for now.

This is a developing story. We will add more information as it becomes available.