QUALICUM BEACH -- For the first time in their 38 years of business, Quality Foods grocery stores will be closed on Easter Sunday to give their employees a much-deserved day off.

“We close early typically on Easter Sunday,” said Quality Foods President, Noel Hayward. “We’ve never closed for the day but this year, it’s the right thing to do.”

The Vancouver Island-based grocery store chain has approximately 1,200 employees and 13 stores on Vancouver Island, including one location in Powell River.

Hayward says the chain has seen overwhelming demand for groceries since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

“Traffic in our stores are down a bit but customers baskets are twice the size,” said Hayward.

The decision to close entirely on Easter Sunday was supported by everyone, including customers, says Hayward.

After Easter Sunday, Quality Foods will return to offering its early morning shopping hours for seniors and those who are most vulnerable, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Meanwhile, Hayward suggests that the best time to shop on a regular day at Quality Foods is anytime after 6 p.m.