By Katie Brace

BEVERLY (CBS) – With more and more emphasis on social distancing, the city of Beverly is trying to alleviate crowding in what has become the most popular place – grocery stores.

“I did manage to get some paper towels,” said shopper Cathy Hunt, showing off her big find from her local grocery store.

With the stores one of the few places still open, Beverly Mayor Mike Cahill wants to ensure they are not overcrowded.

“Social distancing is the most important thing any of us can do,” said Mayor Cahill.

The city started a voluntary effort to space out shoppers. The city’s six wards are split into three groups, and each group is designated to shop every third day.

“We’re just hoping that people will be thoughtful and will go with the days we’ve set out for them as much as they can. We’ve had great feedback on it,” said Cahill.

“I think that’s a great idea that should be expanded to other communities as well,” said shopper Michalene Hague.

There are four large chain grocers in the city. The mayor hopes if residents shop in other communities, they stick with the recommended days and the idea will spread.

Although Hague can take advantage of senior hours, less traffic during the days sounds like a better alternative than early mornings.

“Most of us are still sleeping at that point in time,” said Hague.

Hunt has a young granddaughter at home, so she visits the store every other day for milk and because the shelves remain empty.

“Because you can’t get what you need. There was no flour, no vegetable oil, no kosher salt. I am out of all the staples,” she said.

Once those staples return, voluntary shopping day restrictions are an even easier sell.

“Maybe at this point, anything is better than nothing,” said Hunt.

The mayor says his office will track how well the idea takes hold.

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