Grocery Checkout sees substantial decrease in traffic during remote term

Campus grocery store seeks rent reduction from University

To welcome students back, Grocery Checkout has been hosting daily giveaways of popular products over the past few weeks.
Journal File Photo

Grocery Checkout, the grocery store located inside the Queen’s Centre, is navigating unusual circumstances during the pandemic.

Due to diminished student presence on campus and limited capacity in campus buildings, Nathan Felder, owner of Grocery Checkout, said the store’s volume of business is “down substantially” compared to previous years.

“We knew it would be slower, but we didn’t expect that it would be this slow,” Felder told The Journal. “So we’re a little bit surprised at how little students are actually coming to campus.”

To welcome students back, Grocery Checkout has been hosting daily giveaways of popular products over the past few weeks.

“We were trying to give students something positive about the year, something to look forward to,” Felder said. “We want them to remember that we’re still on campus […] they can still come to our store.”

READ MORE: With ARC closed, Grocery Checkout serving community on Uber Eats

According to Felder, the giveaways were well-received and Grocery Checkout staff enjoyed an initiative the student body at large could participate in.

“The brands [that sponsored the initiative] wanted to find a way to stay in front of students,” he said. “It was successful in that they got good exposure […] Students were trying the products and they really liked them, which we were happy to see.”

In April, Grocery Checkout made delivery available through Uber Eats to continue serving customers, but has since suspended the option.

“We did it during the spring because there was definitely a need for it,” Felder explained. “Delivery was really popular because many locations were closed. In nicer weather with [fewer] cases and more stores open, delivery hasn’t been as popular.”

Felder said the store will revisit delivery options when the weather changes and people are less willing to go out, and if pandemic restrictions increase.

“Many people reported that there is a higher cost because Uber [Eats] does have a fairly high service fee, so that’s something we also have to consider,” Felder added. “We would try to maintain our pricing while still giving our students the Uber [Eats] option.”

Felder said Grocery Checkout is currently looking to the University for support, namely through rent reduction.

“We've been in touch with [the University],” Felder said. “Being a larger school with a larger budget, it’s easier for them to absorb some of the cost as opposed to us trying to absorb it all [ … ] I know they’re looking at other options available to help us, but we haven’t heard anything back at the moment.”

Felder told The Journal he’s hopeful that with support from students and the University, Grocery Checkout will weather the storm.

“We're a student service and we’ve always employed students,” he said. “During this time, thinking about us and trying to support local where [possible] is definitely very important. The larger chains will make it through, and with the support of students, so will we and other local businesses.”

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