PORT RICHEY — On a recent day, shoppers at the Walmart Supercenter here were greeted with a meat department with little or no meats, bologna, chicken or hotdogs.
Shelves that one held cereals and noodles were empty.
And a Walmart associate was stationed at the end of the paper goods aisle giving shoppers the choice of paper towers or toilet tissue.
That has been the scene at Pasco-area Walmart stores for the last several days as shoppers attempt to stock up on items because of fears the coronavirus may not just make them sick but could significantly hinder or prevent the ability to buy everyday goods and groceries.
Anne Hatfield, director of Walmart Global Communications, says while Arkansas-based the retail giant is seeing increased demand, it is not experiencing “significant disruptions” during what she termed “unprecedented times and the situation is dynamic.”
In an email received Sunday evening, Hatfield said Walmart is “continuing to work diligently to take care of the communities we serve.”
“We have a global supply chain that is world-class and we are leveraging our supply chain to source product both locally and around the world to meet the increased demand,” Hatfield said.
She also noted the stores have made adjustment to their operating hours “to allow extra time to stock merchandise and perform extra sanitation.”
“We are also hiring and additional 150,000 associates for our stores and distribution centers and of those 150,000 hires, approximately 9,400 will be in Florida,” Hatfield said. “This will help us meet the demands we’re facing in our distribution centers, fulfillment centers and in our stores.”
“This is an opportunity where we can surge capacity, provide jobs to people and hopefully contribute a bit to easing the pain of this broader economic downturn the coronavirus is causing.”
Walmart has established a special webpage on what the company is doing concerning COVID-19. The address to that site is Walmart.com/coronavirus.
Jacksonville-based Winn Dixie have not responded to requests for comment.