WINCHESTER — Chain stores nationwide are taking precautions and working to find the best possible way to serve customers as communities deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
Many stores have implemented policies to allow only those who are 60 years old and older to shop at a specific time. Older adults are said to be at a higher risk of being affected by COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said.
Walmart stores and Neighborhood Markets will be open 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. until further notice to “help ensure associates can clean and stock products. Stores operating under more reduced hours will keep current hours of operation.”
On top of that, Walmart stores nationwide will start an hour-long senior shopping event every Tuesday for customers 60 and older. The revised shopping period will start one hour before stores open and will begin March 24 and last through April 28. Pharmacies and vision centers will be open during that period, too, the store advised.
Other major chain stores are following suit with many of the same precautions.
All Target stores will close no later than 9 p.m, attributing its reduction in store hours to allowing staff "additional time for cleaning and restocking each day.”
Target will also reserve the first hour of shopping each Wednesday to “vulnerable guests,” including the elderly and those with underlying health concerns.
All Giant and Martin’s supermarkets will be open 6-7 a.m. daily for customers who are 60 or older.
Other stores such as Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, Chik-fil-A and Starbucks have limited purchases to drive-through transactions and have encouraged purchases through apps for curb-side pick-up.
In addition to reduced and special hours, some stores continue to limit purchases on essential items.
“We will work to keep our stores stocked and prices fair. As one would expect, paper products, cleaning supplies and other items are in high demand as customers prepare for the possible impact of COVID-19,” Walmart said on its website. “We are working to replenish those items quickly, including diverting products to areas of the country where they are needed most and routing deliveries directly to stores. We have also authorized our store managers to manage their inventory, including the discretion to limit sales quantities on items that are in unusually high demand.”
Walmart has put a purchasing limit on items such as paper products, eggs, milk, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, diapers, wipes, formula, baby food and water.
Costco has also confirmed it will place limits on similar items.
“Limits have been implemented on certain items to help ensure more members are able to access the merchandise they want and need,” Costco President and CEO Craig Jelinek said. “Our buyers and suppliers are working to ensure in-demand merchandise as well as everyday favorites are available in our warehouses.”
Some Costco stores have even bumped up security measures to enforce the new rules.
For more information about stores, visit their websites.