Major retailers such as Walmart and Target are adjusting store policies to accommodate elderly and immunocompromised shoppers who are most at risk of coronavirus. Walmart has announced that from Tuesday, March 24th through April 28th, it will launch a Tuesday shopping event dedicated to older customers. Stores will open one hour early, including pharmacies.
Target is following suit, with an hour of dedicated shopping being exclusively offered to vulnerable customers on Wednesday mornings. Both stores are also adjusting opening hours, nationwide. Walmart U.S. stores will open at 7a.m. each morning and will close at 8.30 every evening. Target stores will be closing at 9p.m., with reduced hours in both cases to allow for more rigorous cleaning of stores.
To better serve our customers and support our associates, Walmart U.S. stores are making the following changes: https://t.co/SFfKBdos5z pic.twitter.com/StIx9p2adEMarch 19, 2020
Stores such as Whole Foods Market, as well as more local chains and stores, are also implementing measures to make shopping a safer and less stressful experience for their most vulnerable customers. If you don't live near a Walmart or Target, be sure to check your alternative options.
Running reduced hours can be an effective way of encouraging social distancing and protecting those who are most at risk of severe complications and even death if they do contract COVID-19. However, shoppers should still maintain an appropriate distance from one another, with general advice recommending at least a meter of separation.
Measures to limit stockpiling implemented
With shoppers nationwide sharing frustrations that many essentials are nowhere to be found in stores, Walmart is also limiting the amount customers are allowed to buy of any one product.
'Our stores will have limits for customers in certain categories including paper products, milk, eggs, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, water, diapers, wipes, formula and baby food.'
However, there is no clarification on what these limits will be and how they will be implemented. Shoppers are taking to social media to report shortages of food staples such as meat and dried goods, none of which are protected by Walmart's latest measures. The best emergency food storage companies have a variety of food supplies to see shoppers through a crisis, but even these are selling out fast.
Target, too, is protecting in-demand products. However, it's been less clear on which products are being monitored, and how. In a press release, Target CEO Brian Cornell has said "We’ll continue to maintain limitations on in-demand items and respectfully ask all guests to consider their immediate needs and purchase accordingly so more families can find the products they need."