Despite pandemic, grocery stores packed ahead of Thanksgiving

Local News

LUBBOCK, TX — ‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and all through the store, hundreds of customers were making last-minute runs for turkey, ham and stuffing galore.

Jokes aside, Wednesday, Thanksgiving-eve, local grocery stores were swamped with customers. A manager at United Market Street on 98th Street and Quaker Avenue said in the last two weeks, thousands of customers have flooded the store, and he said it’s just as busy now as it was this time last year.

However, despite the pandemic, while the number of holiday customers has remained the same so far, he added that their buying patterns are different.

“People are buying just as much as far as holiday stuff, but they’re buying it in smaller doses. I think that we’re seeing a lot of guests come in and instead of [buying a Thanksgiving meal for] 15-20 people, they’re doing it for ten, five people,” Allen Smith, store director of Market Street, said.

This week, the City of Lubbock Health Department urged residents to avoid large groups and scale back Thanksgiving celebrations. A customer shopping at Market Street said she planned to do just that during this year’s holiday celebration.

“I normally spend [Thanksgiving] with my family every other year, but we’re going to have to do it with my in-laws because my family came down with COVID-19 … so we’re staying in town, but we’re making the best of it,” said Sasha Reece, who was shopping at Market Street for pie ingredients.

Another trend grocery stores have seen is an influx of new cooks trying their hand at making turkey dinner on their own for the first time.

“A lot of people are asking us, ‘Oh this is my first time to cook this, this is my first time to try this’ … Since everybody is doing a lot more cooking at home this year and a lot of people haven’t done the traditional turkey, haven’t done the traditional ham, we are selling a lot more of those dinners than we have in prior years,” Smith said.

Garrett Stauder, top store leader for Lubbock H-E-B said, that even though the store just opened about a month ago, H-E-B has also been selling a lot of seasonal foods, especially ham.

“We put a brown sugar glaze over our fully cooked ham, a fully cooked H-E-B spiral ham, and then we hit it with a torch that gives it a great crust … It’s been a huge hit this far,” Stauder said.

He also offered some tips to first-time turkey cookers, jokingly reminding people not to put their turkeys in the microwave.

“I’ve heard of folks sticking frozen turkeys in the bathtub. I do not recommend that either,” Stauder said.

And don’t worry, both stores said they still have plenty of toilet paper too, if you were concerned.

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