How Whole Foods Market UK is Responding to COVID-19

Update 25 March: To ensure the health and safety of our team members and customers during this critical time, we are suspending our current return policy and all sales are final unless there was a quality problem with the product at the time of purchase.

Updated 24 March 2020: Whole Foods Market Further Adjusts Stores Hours to Continue to Support our Communities and follow UK Government Changes.

To continue to serve our communities and our Team Members, we will be adjusting our store hours and some of our services to comply with the UK government policies announced on the evening of 23rd March 2020.

As of 24th March, we will be further adjusting our store hours to make sure that we can continue to provide customers with the essential grocery, meat, seafood and produce items. These adjustments will also help us continue to restock shelves and sanitise our stores in preparation for the next day. We are also supporting our valued Team Members through this move to reduce their time spent away from their homes travelling to and from work.

As part of these changes, we will also be adapting some of our services which are not deemed essential as per the Government guidelines. This will include our take away coffee bars, some of our service counters and some of our pre-prepared food offer.

We continue to appreciate your patience, understanding and support as we strive to provide for our communities however possible, within the Government’s new guidelines. The health and safety of our customers, Team Members and communities continues to remain our top priority.

Updated 18 March 2020: Whole Foods Market Adjusts Store Hours to Better Serve our Communities

In order to better serve our communities, we will be temporarily adjusting our store hours. Please check our website for more information on your store’s updated hours.

Customers who are 70+, are invited to shop beginning one hour before the store opens to the general public under the store’s new adjusted hours.

Whole Foods Market recognizes the important role we play in our communities, especially during this challenging time. As we prioritize the health and safety of our customers, Team Members and partners, we remain committed to ensuring that all customers have access to the items they need, taking action to support our Team Members and doing our part to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

In order to better serve our communities, we will be adjusting our store hours. Please check our website for more information on your store’s updated hours. 

Starting on Thursday, March 19, all Whole Foods Market stores in the U.K. will service customers who are 70 and older one hour before opening to the general public, under the new adjusted hours posted on the store’s web page. (example: if a store’s new hours are 9am-8pm, customers who are 70+ can shop starting at 8am.)

We are setting aside this time to help these customers, who the UK government have identified as among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, feel more comfortable shopping in our stores and helping to ensure they are able to get the items they need in a less crowded environment.

In addition, Whole Foods Market stores will close up to two hours early to give our Team Members more time to restock shelves, sanitize our stores and rest in preparation for the next day.

We appreciate your patience, understanding and support as we strive to support our communities however possible. The health and safety of our customers, Team Members and communities remains our top priority.

Updated 17 March 2020: To our Whole Foods Market community and customers:

We want to make sure you know what to expect when visiting our stores in the coming weeks, as well as how we’re responding to the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, both as a retailer and employer.

We know that Whole Foods Market is more than a grocery store to many of you – it’s a neighbourhood hangout, a regular meeting spot, your favourite coffee bar – and most importantly, it’s a place to nourish yourself and your family. We have high standards for the products we sell and for the stores we sell them in, and we are committed to maintaining those standards during these challenging times.

To ensure the safety of our Team Members, customers and products we have a team of leaders from across Whole Foods Market evaluating the situation in real-time, consulting with outside health and food safety experts and monitoring updates in guidance from the government and Public Health England.

Here are some of the ways we’ve evolved our business practices:

  • We have temporarily closed our seating areas in stores.
  • We have temporarily paused our self-service options and moved products to be pre-packaged or that can be served to customer by our Team Members.
  • We have implemented enhanced cleanliness and sanitation protocols across all stores and facilities, on top of our standard stringent protocols.
  • We are temporarily suspending all food sampling and demos until further notice.
  • Along with increased sanitation measures taking place on our food bars, we have a plan in place to modify operations as needed to ensure safety and to keep serving our customers the high-quality offerings they expect. This includes modified menus, hours of operation and additional deep cleanings throughout the day.
  • We have removed open access sample product testers from our beauty and body care departments.
  • We are no longer allowing personal, reusable containers at our smoothie and coffee bars

As we anticipate a regular flow of new information and events, we are thoughtfully considering the role each individual store plays within the specific communities they serve.

Our Team Members in our stores, distribution facilities and offices are the heartbeat of our company. We are deeply appreciative of their continued dedication and hard work as we collectively navigate uncharted territory in order to continue to serve our customers and communities.