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Harris Teeter grocery stores will be temporarily closing an hour early. Here’s why.

Harris Teeter is cutting back on store hours as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact business with cases spiking across the country.

Harris Teeter will temporarily shorten all store operating hours from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. starting Wednesday, according to the company website. The change is in place until further notice.

The service counter, and meat and fish counters will close at 8 p.m., according to the company. Other amenities will close at 7 p.m.

The Matthews-based grocery chain cited the labor shortage affecting the country nationwide during the coronavirus pandemic, as first reported by Grocerying, a blog about grocery stores in the Carolinas. Stores have been open until 10 p.m.

Closing early will help “manage labor in this difficult employment environment,” company spokeswoman Danna Robinson told the Observer Tuesday.

It will allow employees to take earned days off, as well as help them process ExpressLane orders, prepare for the following day and provide time for cleaning, according to the company.

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Harris Teeter will temporarily shorten all store operating hours closing at 9 p.m. starting Wednesday, according to the company website.  Catherine Muccigrosso Observer file photo

Worker shortages in the pandemic

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Harris Teeter offered employees bonuses, temporary $2 hourly pay increases and hired more than 5,000 workers, the Observer previously reported.

Harris Teeter, a Kroger Co. subsidiary, has about 35,000 workers in more than 250 stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Maryland, Delaware, Florida and the District of Columbia. There are more than 60 stores in the Charlotte region.

The worker shortage has effected industries from Amazon to Lowe’s, as well as restaurants, which have offered sign-on bonuses, wage increases and other benefits as incentives to appeal to job seekers.

While many businesses have adjusted hours and days of operation during the pandemic, some have closed for a day to give employees a day off. Charlotte-based companies like Bojangles and Mac’s Speed Shop closed all stores to avoid employee burnout.

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Catherine Muccigrosso is the retail business reporter for The Charlotte Observer. An award-winning journalist, she has worked for multiple newspapers and McClatchy for more than a decade.

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