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Schnucks' new hours begin as grocer strategizes during staff shortages

Union says the strategy increases staff numbers during peak periods as grocery stores handle high retirement numbers, slow recruitment, and still-surging sales

BRENTWOOD, Mo. — Pull up to the Schnucks at Manchester & Brentwood and you'll notice some old signage on a side window, but at the entrance, there is a new sign outlining the new, shorter hours. 

The Brentwood location, like several around the St. Louis area, is now closing at 9 p.m. It's a strategy that will boost staffing for the company's busiest hours.

Stopping by the store Monday evening, Roslyn Pearson said she was unaware of the change, adding it might not work with her work schedule.

"By the time I would get here it would be 8 o'clock, maybe 8:30, so I would not have much time to shop," Pearson said. "That means I will only be able to come on my day off."

Inside the store, shoppers will find more changes to operations: consolidated hours, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., at different specialty counters.

"The problem most of my Schnucks employees have right now, it's not not enough hours, it's too many hours," United Food & Commercial Workers Local 655 President David Cook said.

As a union leader, Cook said grocery stores everywhere are struggling with high retirement rates, slow recruitment, and still incredibly high numbers of shoppers.

"It really doesn't surprise me," Cook said of the change. "I've been in communications with both Schnucks and Dierbergs, as with a lot of retailers right now. Staffing is an issue, and this is one way that Schnucks has decided to try to address that, but at the same time as addressing that, kind of thank their employees for the job that they are doing and shorten those shifts up a little bit."

Carrying a frozen pizza and baked goods out of the store, Sheena Cary said she saw friends' posts on social media about the change in hours, but she'll be largely unaffected, laughing that she's "usually in pajamas at this point."

As shoppers continue to file through the side entrances, store leaders hope at least a few of them are looking for an opportunity to bring home the bacon, metaphorically. 

Schnucks is hosting a company-wide career fair Thursday, Oct. 7 from 1 to 5 PM at all 111 locations across Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. 

Most positions are part-time to start, and candidates hired at the career fair are eligible for up to $600 in performance and retention bonuses.

Online job applications can be found at schnucks.com/careers.

Contact reporter Sara Machi on Facebook and Twitter.