The furlough impact will be felt across the Department of Defense beginning the week of July 8 as hundreds of thousands of DOD civilians are put on unpaid leave one day a week until the end of the fiscal year. Included in these furloughs are the 57 federal employees at Naval Air Station Patuxent River’s commissary resulting in the store’s closure one additional day a week.
The same week the DOD implements its furloughs, the commissary here will begin closing on Tuesdays, in addition to its regular Mondays, until the end of “furlough season,” which runs through Sept. 30. The first closed Tuesday is July 9.
Other than the furlough day, there are no other changes planned for store operation hours.
“Throughout sequestration, we’ve done our best to try and reduce the impact on our patrons, and we will continue to do so when furloughs are implemented,” said Debbie House, the Pax River commissary store manager.
Navy Reservist Christopher Thornton, an engineer with Atlantic Test Ranges, said although he and his family do the majority of their grocery shopping at the commissary, they understand everyone is having to make cuts somewhere.
“I know it’s not permanent, it’s just another part of sequestration and something that we’re going to have to get used to,” he said.
The commissary here manages more than 30,000 customer transactions in a month, House said, which breaks down to roughly 8,600 each week and 1,450 on Tuesdays.
“That workload requires a significant amount of creativity and dedication to ensure products are on the shelf and that our cashiers are in place to check out customers,” she said. “We will continue to work hard to maximize the flexibility of our workforce by rescheduling employees and shifting them around the store so they are available to serve our customers during peak shopping periods.”
House said although the store will be closed two days instead of one, customers can still expect to have the same quantity and selection of products whenever it is open. But, like any retail operation, commissaries are subject to potential marketplace supply fluctuations.
During furlough season, House said, DeCA will continue to work with its industry partners-vendors, suppliers and brokers-to ensure there is no disruption in product deliveries.
As with all other federal employees subject to the 11 furlough days, Kevin Robinson, Defense Commissary Agency public affairs specialist, said the commissary’s federal employees will also lose 20 percent of their pay during the furlough period; these employees do not include baggers or the contract workers who staff the deli and bakery.