Walmart announced Wednesday, March 18, that it will begin reducing store hours from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily to give employees more time to clean and restock busy stores. The new hours are effective March 19 at all U.S. stores.
The change is linked to what the public is calling ‘panic buying’ in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. The purchase resulted in a failure for many retailers to properly stock shelves, especially with toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other home health products.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the current pandemic outbreak of respiratory disease is caused by a new (novel) coronavirus that was first detected in China. It has now been detected in more than 150 locations internationally, including the United States. The United States has more than 8,000 cases and 108 deaths. To date, more than 179,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported and more than 7,400 deaths worldwide.
Walmart said that while the store’s hours of operation will change, employees will have access to their regular shifts and full hours.
From March 24 to April 28, Walmart said it was offering special shopping hours for older customers who are more vulnerable to the coronavirus. During this time, Walmart will host a one-hour senior shopping event every Tuesday for customers aged 60 and over. It will start one hour before the store opens to the public. Pharmacies and the Vision Center will also be open during this special senior shopping season.
“Our associates have been nothing short of heroic in their commitment to serving customers, stocking shelves as quickly as possible and keeping their stores clean. When their communities needed it most, our people performed at their best. Their efforts continue to be a huge source of pride for everyone at Walmart, ”said Dacona Smith, Walmart US COO.
Smith said there will be item limitations placed on a number of products to ensure more customers have access to the things they need.
“Our stores will have limits for customers on milk, eggs, cleaning products, hand sanitizer, water, diapers, wipes, formula and baby food,” Smith said. .
Smith said Walmart Auto Services will be temporarily closed to allow those employees to help with restocking and store cleaning. The vision center will keep normal hours.
“We take our stores and communities very seriously and will continue to make the changes necessary to ensure our associates are supported and our customers can get what they need. Let’s all take care of each other over there, ”Smith said.