Countdown has announced it will pay its waged supermarket and distribution centre team members a bonus equivalent to an extra 10 percent per hour worked over the course of  the four week Level 4 alert lockdown.

Customers will also start to see specials return in stores nationwide over the course of this week and next as supplies rebuild and the country starts to settle into a calmer shopping pattern.

Supporting the team

All of Countdown’s waged supermarket and distribution team members working during the lockdown will be paid a bonus equivalent to an additional 10 percent more per hour worked  in recognition of the essential service they are providing New Zealanders at this challenging time. Going forward, from September, Countdown team members with 12 months or more service will earn a minimum of the living wage of $21.15 an hour.

Countdown has been paying any of its team who is required to self-isolate due to travel since February, and is also paying any team members whom the government has deemed to be high risk to Covid-19 including those over 70, immune deficient and those with serious chronic illness.

Salaried team in stores and distribution centres are also being paid for their additional hours in recognition they are going above and beyond their normal week.

Countdown Managing Director, Natalie Davis, said paying the team more reflects the essential service they are providing the country.

“Caring for our team is very important to us, and more than ever at the moment, their health, safety and wellbeing is our utmost priority.  We have been doing a number of things to support our team as they provide an incredible and essential service to communities across New Zealand," said Davis.

“As well as paying our supermarket and distribution centre teams more, we are also supporting any of our team members whom the government has deemed high risk so they can be encouraged to stay home and not worry about work.

“We’re also working directly with those in our team who are unable to work during the lockdown period for any reason, such as caring for dependents, to make sure they’re supported with discretionary leave.

“In terms of day to day support, we have increased our team discount for food and groceries from 5 per cent to 10 per cent and we also provide all our frontline and DC team with meals during any of their shifts.

“To help our team respond to the huge demand we have seen, we have also begun a significant recruitment programme. Five-hundred new team members started with us last week.  We are pleased to be helping create jobs for New Zealanders at this challenging and unsettling time."

Countdown is also working closely with a number of customer-focused organisations such as Hospitality NZ and others who have been impacted by Covid-19 and the lockdown.

Specials returning due to more settled customer demand

Over the course of this week and next, Countdown customers will start to see short-term specials and promotions return as the supply chain re-builds and customer demand evens out.  Countdown’s long-term Great Price programme remains unchanged, with more than 3400 products across the store at low prices every day.

Davis said while the weekend was busy and online shopping in particular is still experiencing unprecedented demand, the supply chain is beginning to recover from Kiwis’ panic-buying and re-introducing specials is a high priority for the business.

“We’re absolutely committed to providing New Zealanders with good value during this challenging time, and we’re extremely sensitive to making sure we deliver this value right across the country for every community and in every store,” said Davis.

“This week our customers will see specials return across produce from today, meat and Easter specials from Wednesday, and the following week from 6 April a broader promotional programme will return across the store.

“All 3400 essential products we have on Great Prices across the store have remained the same. This includes our popular 3 for $20 Great Price meat offer. As with any normal week, customers may see produce and meat prices fluctuate up and down due to seasonal or market demand.

“We are feeding more people than we ever have in our history.  We made the decision not to go ahead with planned promotions last week because we simply didn’t have the stock in store for our customers.  Thankfully that is beginning to repair itself as Kiwis heed the advice to shop normally.

“It’s a fine balance to get right between managing and exacerbating demand, filling trucks with what’s most needed, and ensuring our team can focus on what’s most important and work safely.  We’ve had incredible support from our suppliers and customers, and we’re hoping things will settle even more,” said Davis.

Prioritising customers in need for online delivery

Countdown is prioritising its online delivery service towards customers who are over 70, have serious chronic illness, are self-isolating due to recent travel or have a physical disability that prevents them from shopping in our stores.

More than 16,000 customers have now been accepted for this service.  Countdown is working hard to increase delivery window availability for these customers and encourages customers who can shop in stores to do so, to enable online services to be prioritised for those in need.

Countdown supermarkets are open from 9am-8pm, and are less busy after 1pm.