Grocery store customers

How to Handle Grocery Returns Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Grocery loss prevention leaders discussed returns during March 27 webinar

Read Time:  2 Min

There’s a saying that during a disaster of any kind, grocery stores are “the last to close and the first to open.” The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Grocers are on the front line and continue to serve their communities. Between panic buying and normal purchases, grocers are experiencing record sales. While the increase in sales is welcome, a growing threat looms—returns.

Within weeks, customers will picture the end of their social distancing lifestyle, and many will see financial hardship. This combination will undoubtedly lead to consumers attempting to return excess purchases in order to recover cash to pay other expenses. Grocers are already facing the dilemma as early returns start to make their way into the stores. While many grocers have customer-centered returns policies, there are health and safety implications, as well as financial challenges for continuing with business-as-usual. 

Loss prevention managers and store owners are rapidly changing returns policies to confront the new realities. Should grocers accept items that could be contaminated without any way of verifying the hygiene of the product?  Or suspend all returns and risk alienating customers?

The question grocers face is, “What do we do about returns?” While there is no right answer, options include:

  • Suspending all returns indefinitely
  • Restricting returns on specific products or types of products
  • Accepting returns and discarding the inventory
  • Introducing new restrictions on returns

To help grocers connect with each other and explore the issue of returns, is hosed a webinar on Friday, March 27. Loss prevention advisor Bill Alford moderated a discussion with loss prevention leaders Barton Howard of Rouses Markets and Joe Laufenberg of Skogen’s Festival Foods. Each shared their experience with COVID-related returns, policy changes their stores have made, and what the “new normal” will look like.  A recording of the webinar is available on’s YouTube page.

During the webinar, Barton Howard mentioned how’s loss prevention platform, IDWare Profit, has helped Rouses with returns management during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here to learn about IDWare Profit, and click here to read a case study outlining how Rouses decreased returns by 36%. Call 888.430.8936 with any questions.