Consumer staples stocks have held up better than most during the recent market sell-off, and Kroger (KR 1.51%) is no exception. On Tuesday, CEO Rodney McMullen told CNBC the grocery chain has hired 2,000 people in the last week to meet the high demand amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Other companies that sell groceries, including Walmart (WMT 1.20%) and Amazon.com's (AMZN 1.83%) Whole Foods Market, have seen similar spikes in demand. One of China's leading e-commerce stores, JD.com (JD -0.25%), just announced a $2 billion stock buyback, which says everything about how well things are going with e-commerce, despite strains in other areas of the economy.
Grocery stores are the new hot stocks on Wall Street
Kroger is hiring "every day," McMullen explained. The grocery chain currently has 10,000 openings for more tasks than just stocking shelves. Open positions are available in plants, warehouses, and stores.
Contrary to what the empty shelves might lead people to believe, there is no shortage of food or other essential supplies in the U.S., which means as grocery stores sell out of toilet paper, food, and hand sanitizer, more workers are needed to help restock shelves.
Speaking on behalf of food industry executives, President Trump has asked people not to hoard food and other everyday household items so that everyone has a chance to get what they need. Grocery stores have had to limit hours for restocking and cleaning. Some stores have also limited the number of purchases per customer.
A month ago, the hot ticket on Wall Street was high-tech growth stocks. Now it's toilet paper stocks. Year to date, while the S&P 500 index is down 26%, shares of Kroger are up about 15%, as of March 18.