Euclid Kroger

Kroger on Euclid Avenue on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, in Lexington, Kentucky. This location, along with others in Lexington, has adjusted its hours in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kroger has changed all of its Lexington locations' closing hours to 10 p.m., with the exception of the 704 Euclid Avenue location, which closes at 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

The Euclid location remains open one hour after others to satisfy the needs of local University of Kentucky students, according to store manager Joshua Hughes.

Hughes said many factors led to the adjustment of the hours, but all revolve around effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and similar actions of competitors such as Target, Meijer and Walmart.

For example, he said the shorter hours are an effort to resolve being understaffed, with a “shortage of truck drivers and warehouse issues with product availability,” in line with a national worker shortage amid the pandemic. 

Employees of the Euclid Kroger have noticed this lack of staff firsthand.

“We definitely have been understaffed in the past couple of months, but I don’t know if it’s just being understaffed or [the store] being more busy than usual, with school being back in session and being the place that a lot of college students go to,” said UK junior and Euclid Kroger employee Renardo Johnson.

Even on fall break, Johnson found himself picking up extra shifts, while other employees have had to stay later than scheduled due to the store not having enough workers.  

“Once we start getting more staff and better availability, then we’ll probably go back to regular hours,” Hughes said. 

Unlike Hughes, Johnson was not as optimistic about the new hours’ potential to resolve some of the supermarket’s struggles.

“I don’t think that closing early will necessarily change the problem of being short staffed, but it definitely does help a bit,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the reduced hours allow staff to be in the store for less time, at an increased rate of productivity with more breaks.

While Kroger workers are catching a break with the new adjustment, some university students feel otherwise when walking in just before the new closing hours.

UK sophomore Luke Allen did not know Kroger was adjusting closing hours until asked about how he felt about the change.

“This is definitely an inconvenience for me,” Allen said. “With late classes, I often only have time to shop later in the day for my groceries.”

A waiting game of short staffing and company struggles will determine when hours will return to normal, leaving students with reduced hours at their local Kroger in the meantime.

“We don't have an end date,” Hughes said. “We did something very similar during the pandemic.”

At the start of the pandemic, Kroger changed some location hours. Original store hours of 1 a.m. and midnight were adjusted to close between midnight and 10 p.m. 

After reverting to original midnight hours prior to the start of the 2021-2022 school year, the adjustment of earlier closing times once again impacts some students. 

“This will affect when I go shopping and where I shop, especially when it gets later at night,” said Allen.

Allen later said he will have to take his business elsewhere to resolve the timing conflict until either his classes allow or the hours are adjusted to the original ones.