- Publix is doing away with its one-way aisle policy at all stores except those where the measure is required by local ordinance, according to the Tampa Bay Times and other media outlets. The grocer began pulling up floor decals and store signs over the weekend.
- “We implemented one-way aisles at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic to help our customers understand and practice social distancing, and over time it has become widely understood and adopted into our routines," company spokesperson Maria Brous said in a statement.
- The grocer will still have floor decals, signs and intercom announcements reminding shoppers to stay six feet apart from one another.
Publix implemented one-way aisles during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic this spring, joining many retailers that were taking the same step to enforce social distancing among shoppers.
The company says that unwinding the program is a result of customers having a better understanding of safety and distancing, but the effectiveness of one-way aisles has been questionable for months. Shoppers and analysts interviewed by Grocery Dive in April said the rule was regularly disregarded in stores across the country, and that employees weren't providing enforcement.
Brous acknowledged at the time that some customers didn't like the rule, but said company employees were tasked with reminding customers to follow it and communicating why stores had made the change.
The Giant Company removed one-way aisles signs from its stores in May because customer feedback suggested that it increased the amount of time shoppers spent in stores. Other retailers like Walmart and Aldi, meanwhile, still utilize one-way aisle signage in their stores.
Publix has shifted to other methods of controlling the spread of coronavirus, like offering disinfecting wipes to customers to wipe down their carts instead of relying on employees to do so.
Grocers have adjusted their operating procedures as the pandemic has evolved, as product supplies have rebounded and as the healthcare community has learned more about the virus and how it's transmitted. Many retailers, including Publix, have reinstated normal store hours after shortening them in the spring. Others are reintroducing sampling and allowing shoppers to bring in reusable bags. Most grocery chains still require shoppers to wear masks while in stores.
In Florida, where Publix operates the majority of its 1,250 stores, COVID-19 infections have been falling since mid-July.