California Grocers Association urges consumers to shop early for Thanksgiving meals

The California Grocers Association is urging consumers to shop early for their Thanksgiving meals to avoid overcrowding at grocery stores.

Greater demand will be placed on grocery stores to maintain occupancy rates below 100 percent, and counties in the red and purple tiers have to keep their stores at 50 percent of in-store capacity.

RELATED: Health experts: Quarantine now before seeing select family members this Thanksgiving

"November and December are typically the busiest times of year for the grocery industry with Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, we're in a unique situation because of the coronavirus, and the restrictions put on shopping in various areas so we determined that it would be in the industry's best interest and also the consumers if they would shop earlier than that last-minute rush that everybody likes to make," said Dave Heylen, the Vice President of Communications for the California Grocers Association.

Heylen said the lines won't be as long if people spread out their shopping over the next few days.  

"This year because of the need for social distancing, restrictions on the number of people you can have in the store, it's going to make for a little more difficult shopping experience so if it can be spread out between let's say now and the weekend, we believe it will make for a safer shopping environment," he said.

Heylen is also asking people to be patient while shopping.

"Be a little patient with the employees in the stores, they're working extra hard to keep the stores as clean as possible and they're facing their own challenges so we're also encouraging a little bit of patience as well and I think by doing that, we all work together for the common good and we can have a wonderful holiday season," said Heylen.

According to the California Grocers Association, many grocery stores have expanded e-commerce partnerships and access, hired additional staff members, added cooler and freezer capacity, created Thanksgiving meal and turkey pick-up stations, and expanded private-label offerings to alleviate shopper congestion.

Get your top stories delivered daily! Sign up for FOX 11’s Fast 5 newsletter. And, get breaking news alerts in the FOX 11 News app. Download for iOS or Android.