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Stepping-up for safety

Wash and fuel sectors look outside the box

Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 2.06.50 PMCOVID-19 has created trying times. Both wash operators and manufacturers have pivoted to create service and product innovation amid these challenges.

A good example is ISTOBAL, a leading manufacturer of car wash equipment with a presence in 78 countries. This company has reinvented uses for its automatic wash arches that are now being used to disinfect the personal protective equipment (PPE) and vehicles of health, security and emergency personnel combatting coronavirus/COVID-19.

The company reports that over two weeks it adapted its chemical application technology that has been in use in car washes around the world. This arch adaptation, first in use in Spain’s battle with COVID-19, now disinfect personnel, vehicles and gear in just 15 seconds.

The company’s equipment can be installed near main accesses, quarantine areas, operating rooms, ICUs and other points. With a capacity to disinfect more than 4,000 people with PPE a day, these arches measure two meters in height and are made up of eight sprinklers that spray a disinfectant product on the PPE of health and safety and emergency forces and are automatically activated in its path thanks to a photocell detection system that activates the sprinklers.

ISTOBAL is also producing arches for the external disinfection of medical vehicles such as ambulances and fleets of the security forces with an average disinfection capacity of about 1,000 vehicles per day. This system is designed to spray vehicles with a biocide.

In the face of some operators turning away truckers and others during this public health emergency, Shell has stepped up to show its support of drivers and frontline workers. In more than 15,000 participating retail sites across 30 countries, Shell will be providing free food and warm beverages to healthcare professionals, such as EMTs, nurses and doctors. “As a small thank you for all you are doing for our communities, we invite Canadian healthcare professionals to stop into any participating Shell gas station. All you need to bring is your medical ID and we will provide a free sandwich and warm beverage to keep you fuelled throughout your day,” says Andrea Brecka, general manager Retail, Shell Canada.

The petroleum company also announced that not only will its sites offer free sandwiches and beverages to medical crews as well as commercial drivers such as couriers, long haul and grocery and fuel delivery drivers as well as others. Drivers only need to be uniformed with a company truck.

At Petro-Canada’s 1,500 + sites operations offer plexiglass shields at cash, social distancing prompts and stations are disinfecting all internal surfaces, such as the pay-point, door handles and washrooms every two hours or more. Surfaces outside, such as pumps squeegees, vacuums and air pumps are cleaned multiple times a day.

Suncor spokesperson Nicole Fisher tells OCTANE that Petro-Canada sites are being made as clean and safe as possible. She reports stations are:

  • placing indicators on store floors to ensure people remain at a safe distance from one another
  • installing plexiglass shields at the main pay counters
  • limiting the number of customers in each of our larger stores
  • increasing cleaning and sanitizing procedures
  • reducing contact points, including closing all fountain pop and slush machines

The Chamois Car Wash and Detail Centre, a three-site business located in Winnipeg is offering a full interior sanitizing service. The wash group offers both automated tunnels and full detailing packages in its normal menu. Following the outbreak of the coronavirus, Chamois closed its standard interior service and runs only its automated lines where customers must remain in their cars. Groups such as taxi operators and first responders and others told them people were looking for safer virus-free vehicle interiors.

Chamois turned to their expertise to create a service that had to be safe for employees. At their wash sites, they bath the interior with a liquid germicide that is allowed to sit for a full 10 minutes. Then a single staffer can enter safely to wipe off the residue and perform a deep clean on the interior. The service takes about 45 minutes and costs customers $49 for cars and $59 for vans. The service includes their best-selling Gold wash package.

 Originally published in the May/June issue of OCTANE.


Consumer shopping habits have changed during COVID-19 pandemic, says Couche-Tard

Alimentation Couche-Tard says shopping patterns have changed during COVID-19 lockdowns with consumers purchasing larger-sized goods and stocking up on beer, wine and tobacco products.

The Quebec-based convenience store chain says there has been strong growth in the sale of alcoholic beverages, in jurisdictions where these sales are permitted.

Brian Hannasch

Brian Hannasch

“With the closure of bars and restaurants, we saw a movement in packaged beverage towards larger take-home packages, particularly impacting all beer segments as customer buying shifted to larger pack formats,” CEO Brian Hannasch said June 30 during a conference call about fourth-quarter and record full-year results.

Couche-Tard beat expectations as it reported a fourth-quarter profit of US$576.3 million or 52 cents per share for the period ended April 26, up from US$293.1 million or 26 cents per share a year earlier.

He noted that there was a shift to cases of 24 and 30 beers from six-packs, along with grocery-sized packages of salty and confectionery items.

“There was also a notable shift from instant consumption or single-serve to take-home packages in that category.”

Even with traffic starting to improve as the economy reopens, Hannasch told analysts that he’s been surprised that some of the larger-sized formats remain popular as customers are limiting their shopping trips.

“We’ve also gained new customers as we stayed open throughout the pandemic to meet their needs for emergency products, impulse buys and grocery items, which became increasingly popular, and we’re seeing some stickiness,” he said.

Sales of food, fountain soft drinks and coffee, which declined with lower consumer traffic, have started to increase. But fuel volume, which suffered big drops as people worked from home, is coming back more slowly than merchandise in Canada “and remains a challenge.”

Hannasch said the shift to larger packages was “pretty global” even though alcohol sales aren’t available in Europe or much of Canada.

But he cautioned that it’s premature to say whether the changes in consumer habits will be permanent.

“What could have been the worst of times is turning us into a better, stronger company moving forward with our strategic growth plans and making it easy for our customers’ lives every day even during these difficult days.”

Meanwhile, Couche-Tard has joined Canadian grocers in ending its “appreciation” pay boost for workers. The $2.50 per hour increase ended June 12 in the U.S. and June 22 in Canada.

“We still have some thank-you bonuses in the summer for qualified workers and we also kept health benefits through the end of our calendar year for our employees,” said chief financial officer Claude Tessier.

Tessier added that the novel coronavirus could create some acquisition opportunities for the global retailer as smaller operators and chains struggle to keep up with investments in technology and enhanced safety measures for customers and employees.

“This could even be truer if we are going into a prolonged period of weakness or recession that could reduce their ability to deliver a strong performance.”


Handling pandemic-related stress



Like it or not, we’re learning to function in pandemic times. But despite the many positive efforts made by retailers to improve the health and safety of their staff, employees are still anxious—and front-line workers like in-store staff are especially so.

To explore the pandemic’s ongoing impact in the workplace, human resources technology leader ADP Canada and Angus Reid launched a series of surveys starting in April that revealed 42% of front-line employees felt pressured to go into work during the pandemic (particularly those aged 18 to 34). Furthermore, only 27% of retail/foodservice/hospitality sector employees said they were getting additional mental health resources.

Andrea Wynter, head of human resources at ADP Canada, says the heightened anxiety doesn’t surprise her. “In addition to uncertainty around the pandemic itself, grocery workers are suddenly an essential service,” she says. “They can’t work at home and they’re exposing themselves and putting their families at risk by providing this essential service every day.”

Wynter predicts that as the labour market starts to return to normal, employees will be approaching potential job opportunities with a different lens. “Did they [companies] put their employees first during COVID-19 and will they have my best interests at heart is something they’ll be thinking about more than ever,” she explains. “Those who did will be seen as top-tier employers, even if they’re paying less.”

Here are some strategies that can help employees feel secure and supported, especially in these unprecedented times.

Even months into the pandemic, staff need and appreciate regular updates, says Wynter. “It’s not only about keeping them informed on the situation and the business, but about how you’re going to protect them and what will happen if they get sick,” she says.

Save-On-Foods established a COVID-19 Task Force, committed to dealing with staff queries. “Management and team members can access either a dedicated COVID-19 telephone line or email address if they have any concerns amid the pandemic,” says Heidi Ferriman, vice-president, people & communications. Not only have staff been regularly consulted on how to best enhance their health and safety, she says they’ve provided valuable feedback as “we worked through updating our existing standard operating procedures and developing new ones.”

In addition to making mental health resources readily available to staff, make talking about mental health a “normal” thing, says Sarah Chamberlin, vice-president marketing and donor experience at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). She says managers and other leaders who are more open and honest about their own experiences can help to normalize conversations around mental health. “It’s OK to say, ‘today is a tough day and I’m not liking it,’ and by sharing that experience, your staff will be more willing to share theirs.”

Organizations like CAMH have a wealth of free tools online, including tips on how to talk to front-line staff, including grocery workers.

While these are challenging times for staff in grocery stores, pandemic pressures are hitting head office staff pretty hard too, especially those who have been working from home for months on end. According to the ADP Workplace Insights surveys, 27% of remote workers said they were too busy to take breaks and 24% struggle with managing their mental health.

“This is a new reality [of working] for many and means setting up their homes so they can be productive while creating boundaries between work and life,” says Liz Volk, chief human resources officer at Longo’s. She says the company made sure to survey staff to find out what issues were top of mind and how to make things work better. “Part of that included consistent schedules, getting breaks when they can and taking the time to refresh.”

“Our customers are showing their support by posting signs on our windows, delivering coffee and other treats to the store teams, and making our stores a stop on their vehicle parades in support of essential workers,” says Save-On-Foods’ Ferriman. “We created a page on our internal team member site dedicated to celebrating and sharing these wins and messages of encouragement so that our team members can see how valued they are by their customers and communities.”

At Longo’s, Volk says there is a similar push to share positive feedback from customers coming in via social media and the customer care centre. “Sharing good news helps people stay positive,” she says. The company also provided a financial boost (a $2 hourly increase to all hourly employees and one week of additional pay for those on salary until the end of June) to reward staff commitment and passion. “Showing appreciation of our teams, especially those who have stuck it out on the front lines, has worked out really well,” says Volk.

You don’t have to do it alone. Lean on the expertise of service partners in your communities and encourage staff to do the same. Save-On-Foods’ Ferriman says her company’s employee assistance program has been a godsend during the pandemic, providing staff and their families with health and wellness resources, including 24/7 counselling support. “We recognized through this pandemic the importance of reminding our team members of the tools and benefits that they have access to,” she says. “We also created a new COVID-19 resource page on our team member website giving our teams easy access to any support resources they may need.”

This article appeared in the June/July issue of Canadian Grocer.


Modern digital signage interacts on a whole new level



Digital signage has become a major trend in the retail space. While in the early days, digital signage was relegated to simply playing a video on loop as part of a display, today’s devices are more sophisticated. Modern digital signage allows users to interact with the display, enables them to manage the content they see, provides interactivity, and even delivers video analytics through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

As technology advances to meet consumer demands, and as the industry strives to return to normal during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, here are some digital signage trends we can expect to see in the future.


Consumers are the major driver in the retail business, and as their expectations grow and shopping habits evolve, so too must digital signage. Traditional retailers are facing huge challenges, including increased pressure to exceed customer experience expectations.

Facing the need to innovate, digital signage provides a unique opportunity for retailers to bring focus back to the individual customer and provide a unique in-store journey for each shopper. In fact, 50 percent of consumers said that digital signage influenced their purchase. This means that not only are consumers interacting with this new technology, but it’s also working and delivering ROI.


Another fast-growing industry trend is mobile ordering. Customers are placing their orders in advance, so the order is ready when the customer arrives. While companies like Starbucks have been doing mobile order with in-store pickup for quite some time, the trend is following customers to other retailers.

Digital signage plays a key role, letting customers know the status of their order and where/when to pick it up. This process, known as “line busting,” occurs when a customer places a mobile order and bypasses the point of service (POS) window, going straight to the pickup window instead. Orders and payment are taken in advance, allowing for a more efficient experience for the customer and giving the retailer a higher throughput, thus increasing revenue.

Convenience stores may look to this type of service, as it could increase sales while simultaneously reducing congestion in-store.


The COVID-19 pandemic has been crippling for retail. Many experts are predicting it will take one to two years for the industry to recover. It’s obvious that the retail landscape has changed because of this crisis, and retailers will need to rise to the occasion and adapt to the “new consumer” we’ll likely see emerge post pandemic.

In a situation with such deep and far-reaching impacts, it’s likely that consumer shopping behaviors will change significantly over the long-term — well beyond the end of the pandemic.

Consumers will be reluctant to use touch kiosks. From ordering food to self-checkout at the convenience store, the touch kiosk has grown to be a large presence for digital signage in retail spaces. Consumers’ ability to use their mobile device for a touch-free purchase will be in greater demand than ever before. Or, the use of individual stylus devices might become the new normal when interfacing with touchscreen signage.

It also makes sense that drive-thru traffic, “line busting,” and online or mobile ordering with window or curbside pickup will continue to be popular options, as we ease back into the new normal but consumers might choose to avoid going inside stores.

Retailers need to start thinking toward further innovation and how digital signage can facilitate and improve the new shopping experience. Could there be designated parking spots for curbside pickup with a digital display including order number and updates on when the order will be brought to the car? How can digital signage improve convenience and increase revenue?


There’s one thing that’s certain: digital signage is still on trend for the retail industry. As consumers crave more customized shopping experiences, digital signage can be tapped to both provide and track the in-store journey. Additionally, we’ll see more digital signage interface with mobile devices, both for convenience and for touch-free options in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Digital signage will play a key role in accelerating the effort to embrace the “new consumer” and develop ways to accommodate and encourage shopping to revitalize brick-and-mortar businesses.

Chris Tulk has more 25 years of experience working in the electronics industry, with 15 of those years being spent in the embedded technology space. As Advantech‘s iRetail key account manager, he focuses on finding and developing retail solutions for a multitude of different brands within the retail industry.

Originally published by CSNC’s sister publication, U.S.-based Convenience Store News. Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.

Source: Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola and Sheridan College team up to produce safety shields for c-stores

Source: Coca-Cola

Source: Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is working with Sheridan College’s Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies (CAMDT) to produce and distribute protective countertop shields for small businesses, including local convenience stores and restaurants hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative is designed to support and help business owners continue to operate while maintaining physical distancing measures.

The project came about when Coca-Cola spoke to their customers and realized that a number of smaller, local businesses did not have protective shields or or only had temporary solutions, thereby putting staff and customers at risk.

“Retailers and restaurants are working hard to ensure that Canadians can get the food, drinks and supplies they need during this challenging time,” Ron Soreanu, VP, public affairs & communications at Coca-Cola Ltd., said on the company’s website. “We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for many retailers and we wanted to help businesses that may be overwhelmed trying to keep their business running. Protective barriers between the cashier and the customer will give an extra layer of confidence to everyone during their shopping experience. And, we hope that this investment will enable Canadians to continue supporting their favourite local store or restaurant as our economy begins to re-open.”

Coca-Cola Ltd. is investing $75,000 to fund the purchase of materials and lead the project. Coke Canada Bottling is sourcing the locations and stores that need protective shields and will lead distribution and delivery.

Dave Bryans, president and CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, says his organization “has partnered with Coca-Cola and Sheridan College to supply safety shields to family run c-stores in Ontario. We will be installing these wonderful new shields in upwards of 100 Hasty Markets throughout the province ensuring the safety of our customers and employees. A big thanks to both Coca-Cola and Sheridan College.”

Sheridan College designed the prototype behind these shields and is using an alternative form of plastic, which is just a story as plexiglass, for which there are shortages across North America due to high demand in the wake of the pandemic.

Sheridan is manufacturing multiple designs to suit different countertop configurations for employees working at cash registers or takeout counters.

“Our dedicated team responds to industry needs in an agile way and puts Sheridan in a position to contribute to our communities efficiently and effectively,” Dr. Michelle Chrétien, director of CAMDT at Sheridan College, said in a statement. “We’re delighted to be supporting small business owners with a solution that helps facilitate safe interactions with customers.”

Families of 3 deceased workers sue Tyson over COVID-19 outbreak

The families of three workers who died after contracting the coronavirus in an Iowa meat plant outbreak sued Tyson Foods and its top executives Thursday, saying the company knowingly put employees at risk and lied to keep them on the job.

The lawsuit alleges that Tyson officials were aware the virus was spreading at the Waterloo pork processing plant by late March or early April but kept that information from employees and the public.

As the outbreak grew, the company failed to implement safety measures, allowed some sick and exposed employees to remain on the production line, and falsely assured workers and the public that the plant was safe, the suit alleges.

“Tyson intended by these false representations to deceive workers in the Waterloo facility … and to induce them to continue working despite the uncontrolled COVID-19 outbreak at the plant and the health risks associated with working,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Black Hawk County district court.

Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said the company was saddened by the deaths and that its “top priority is the health and safety of our workers.” He said Tyson has implemented safety measures that meet or exceed federal guidelines.

Meatpacking plants have been hot spots for coronavirus because of their crowded conditions, prompting several to temporarily close. Thousands of workers have become infected and several dozen have died.

The largest union representing meatpacking workers said Thursday that more than 14,000 employees at unionized plants have been infected with coronavirus and 65 have died.

Meat companies including Smithfield Foods and JBS USA and retailers such as Amazon and Walmart have been sued by the families of workers who died from coronavirus. But the lawsuit filed Thursday against Tyson may be the first involving multiple victims at one workplace during the pandemic, according to news reports.

Last week, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law shielding businesses and health care providers from legal claims from people exposed to the virus, retroactive to Jan. 1. But the law has exceptions for injuries that result in hospitalization and death, and appears unlikely to block the case from moving forward.

The lawsuit seeks damages for the estates of employees Sedika Buljic, 58, who died on April 18; Reberiano Garcia, 60, who died on April 23; and Jose Ayala, Jr., 44, who died on May 25. Waterloo attorneys Tom Frerichs and John Rausch and the Spence Law Firm in Wyoming are representing the families.

At least two other Waterloo workers have died after contracting the virus, which infected more than 1,000 of the plant’s 2,800 workers and has devastated the broader community.

With illnesses mounting, Tyson refused calls from local leaders to close the plant for several days and lobbied the governor to keep it open, the suit alleges. The county sheriff. who visited the plant April 10, has said he was shaken by seeing workers in crowded conditions without face coverings and pressed Tyson to close.

The plant is Tyson’s largest pork facility and can process around 20,000 hogs per day.

Iowa’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected the plant April 20 in response to complaints, and said earlier this month it found no violations. The plant closed two days after the inspection before reopening with new safety measures in early May.

In addition to damages for pain and suffering and loss of income, the lawsuit seeks punitive damages to punish Tyson for an “incorrigible, wilful and wanton disregard for workplace safety” and to send a message to other companies.

The lawsuit names the company as well as Chairman John H. Tyson, CEO Noel White, spokeswoman Liz Croston, and several other executives and plant supervisors. Its claims include gross negligence and fraudulent misrepresentation.

John H. Tyson asserted in a newspaper ad in April that the “food supply chain is breaking” due to plant closures and warned that customers would see meat shortages at grocery stores.

The lawsuit claims those warnings were exaggerated and notes that Tyson’s pork exports to China, including some from the Waterloo plant, increased significantly that month.

The lawsuit makes an explosive claim that Tyson has denied previously: that the company allowed workers and subcontractors from another Iowa plant that had closed due to a coronavirus outbreak to begin working in Waterloo in April.

Plant supervisors told employees that their sick coworkers had the flu and warned them not to discuss coronavirus at work, the suit alleges. One man who vomited while on the production line was allowed to keep working, it claims.

7-Eleven Canada celebrates a distant 7-Eleven Day with Slurpee value offers all month long (CNW Group/7-Eleven Canada)

7-Eleven Day cancelled in favour of distanced celebrations

7-Eleven Canada celebrates a distant 7-Eleven Day with Slurpee value offers all month long (CNW Group/7-Eleven Canada)

7-Eleven Canada celebrates a distant 7-Eleven Day with Slurpee value offers all month long (CNW Group/7-Eleven Canada)

Given physical distancing measures put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19, 7-Eleven Canada is taking a different approach to 7-Eleven Day this year.

The company traditionally celebrates by offering free Slurpees to customers on July 11 – the event is hugely popular, prompting long line-ups and even special visits from camps and day cares. 

This year, in order to prioritize the safety of staff, customers, and the neighbourhoods in which the stores operate, the celebrations will happen at a distance.

“We’d love to welcome all Canadians to our stores to celebrate 7-Eleven Day, but it just isn’t the responsible choice this year,” 7-Eleven Canada vice-president and general manager Norman Hower, said in a release. “This is the biggest day of our year, so we are disappointed to make the change, but we’re excited about the ways we can celebrate responsibly, all month long.”

Four $1 Slurpee coupons will be deposited into the accounts of all 7Rewards Members on July 1st and will be valid all month long. In addition, Canadians can have their Slurpee delivered to their homes and get a buy one, get one Slurpee through their Uber Eats and Skip the Dishes apps from July 6-12.

In an effort to support extended staycations and encourage continued physical distancing, 7-Eleven is hosting a month-long virtual block party at home. Slurpee fans are invited to create and share #SlurpeeDancePartee videos on TikTok and Instagram. Those using the 7Rewards app can also try the new AR lens and dance with the dancing Slurpee.

To keep things interesting, a new and exclusive Slurpee flavour lineup includes Fanta Fruit Passion, Citrus Lemonade, Mountain Dew Blue Shock, Crush Lite Cream Soda and Sour Patch Kids Tropical Paradise Punch (developed in partnership with Mondelez Canada).

To further support the neighbourhoods impacted by COVID-19, 7-Eleven is inviting in-store customers to make a donation to Food Banks Canada and will match cash donations up to $100,000 ($25,000 per month June through September).  The goal of providing 500,000 meals to those in need.




Grocery workers should be properly paid during pandemic, Trudeau says

Grocery store employees who continued to work during the COVID-19 pandemic are “heroes” and should be properly compensated, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Friday.

Trudeau’s remarks came about a week after Canada’s three major grocers scrapped so-called pandemic wage premiums for their staff.

“The people who step up in the midst of the most serious times to ensure that Canadians can still put food on the table, that they can get deliveries they need, that shelves are stocked, that Canadian continue to be safe and fed are heroes of this pandemic every bit as much as our front-line health workers and emergency responders,” he said at a news conference in Chelsea, Que., after being asked for his reaction to the pay clawback.

Loblaw Companies Ltd., Metro Inc. and Empire Co. announced last week they would stop paying an hourly premium to store workers starting June 13.

Loblaw and Metro both had been paying workers an extra $2 an hour since March 8, while Empire offered a weekly bonus to all employees and a $2 hourly wage bump to those working more than 20 hours a week.

The companies provided various explanations for the decision, which was slammed by two unions that represent the workers.

Loblaw stores settled into a more stable situation, a spokesperson said at the time, adding the company has invested more than $280 million into safety measures and “is no longer benefiting financially from COVID-19.”

Metro and Empire noted a similar stability.

Trudeau said that the people who have stepped up to help Canadians, often while risking their health or safety, should continue to be supported and respected.

“That’s why we will continue to exhort and expect that people who’ve stepped up during this time be properly supported and paid for it,” he said.

Trudeau’s comments come on the heels of the House of Commons Industry Committee voting unanimously on Thursday to summon representatives of Loblaw, Metro and Empire to explain how they came to the decision, within 24 hours of each other, to cut wage premiums for front-line staff.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was also asked about the decision at an Ottawa news conference Friday and whether it would impact if the companies receive future funding or access to programs.

“I hope that one of the things that this pandemic has taught us is that people who do some of the work which is most essential for our actual, our literal survival are among the lowest paid people in our country,” she said.

“I’m sure that was frightening for many of them,” she said, adding she has told workers at her local grocery stores just how grateful she is for their service.

“I do think that it behoves all of us, including employers, not to forget that lesson.”

Freeland added that the House has heard concerns that government support to Canadians may have provided a disincentive to work.

“I think the fact that grocery stores now feel able to bring the wages back down suggests that there isn’t a powerful disincentive to work out there,” she said.

A Metro spokesperson declined to comment, while Loblaw and Empire did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trudeau and Freeland’s statements.


7-Eleven shares best practices for dealing with COVID-19 crisis

Canadian convenience, car wash and gas businesses have worked hard to keep employees and customers safe during COVID-19. Behind the effort was a reliance on best practices from workers and their companies.

UnknownA good case in point is 7-Eleven Canada, a community retailer with 636 convenience locations across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario, of which more than half offer fuel and 99 of those feature car washes. Throughout the pandemic, 7-Eleven Canada has provided safe access to essential fuel, food and convenience products to meet the needs of its customers.

7-Eleven Canada was quick to put together a leadership task force to deal with the impacts of COVID-19 – meeting daily and learning from 7-Eleven teams in other countries, who were experiencing the impacts of the pandemic before Canada. Daily communication was activated with field and store leaders – with real-time direct print capabilities to immediately shift as changes and new regulations were enacted regionally. 7-Eleven’s Team Canada moved quickly to activate COVID-19 controls and prevention measures, while working together with its industry partners to secure the essential service designation for the channel.

Norman Hower, 7-Eleven

Norman Hower, 7-Eleven

“The safety of our customers and employees is always our top priority,” says Norman Hower, 7-Eleven Canada vice-president and general manager. “As an essential service, we’ve followed the direction of public health authorities; and we also took a leadership position by being first movers in activating non-mandatory safety measures, such as face masks and body temperature checks of team members, to enhance the health and safety of our customers and team members, whilst providing our customers with the convenience they know and love.”

Some of 7-Eleven Canada’s prevention measures include, engineering controls like plexiglass sneeze guards at the sales counter and providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees. Hand sanitizer is available in-store, and employees are required to change gloves when switching from handling general merchandise to prepared foods. Occupancy limits, floor decals inside the stores and on the outdoor apron, as well as directional arrows control customer traffic and regulate social distancing. Customers paying with cash are encouraged to place their payment on the counter to avoid hand contact.

Protocols to address any positive COVID cases among store employees were developed to include store closures, close communication with team members self-isolating with pay, community notifications, and customer guidance to manage personal health.

At the fuel pumps, POP encourages physical distancing and the use of hand sanitizer and paper towels at the dispenser to cover the nozzle handle when pumping fuel. There is also a push to encourage contactless payment methods at the fuel pumps and in-store to limit person-to-person contact. Currently, many car wash sites in Canada feature a pay kiosk. Sites without offer systems for key-in entry to the wash.

None of this would be possible without the brand’s front-line employees, says Hower. “We are very proud of our store teams who are committed to serving our customers and our communities safely during these challenging times.  Their efforts inspire us all. We’ll continue to ensure the necessary controls and measures are in place, and our store teams are well taken care of.” 

 Kelly Gray can be reached at

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McCowan’s latest freestanding hand sanitizing station puts customer safety first

In an effort to build customer confidence and stop the spread of COVID-19, sturdy hand sanitizing stations are an essential line of defence for c-store, gas and car wash sites.

McCowan’s latest design is an elegant freestanding unit that sends a strong message to customers and staff that their safety is of upmost importance to your business.


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