Walmart, the largest retailer in the US, is extending their store operations starting this week. They are the latest retailer to announce longer store hours compared to their operations when the pandemic is just starting.
More store hours
Beginning Monday (August 17) of this week, 4,000 of the 4,7000 Walmart stores are going to be affected by the revised schedule. The new closing time is 10 pm, an hour and a half longer than the original 8:30 pm closing. Meanwhile, opening times will remain unmoved for all of their stores, which is at 7 am.
Moreover, their senior shopping hour continues. Walmart is reserving one hour every Tuesday to senior customers. This will begin an hour ahead of the 7 am regular opening. Those allowed to shop during this dedicated period are people age 60 and above who may be more vulnerable to the virus.
We’re expanding many Walmart store closing times from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Expanding our hours of operations provides customers with greater options to shop food, medicine and supplies. https://t.co/n5Dmzp7Kh7 pic.twitter.com/0qLBiey4Ax
— Walmart Inc. (@WalmartInc) August 14, 2020
In a statement to USA Today, Walmart said: “As we continue reopening our operations, the health and safety of our associates, customers, and communities will guide our decisions.”
CNN reported that according to a Walmart spokesperson, this decision came to allow shoppers to spread out over a longer time period. This can maintain social distancing due to a reduced number of people with more hours to choose from. Walmart has been limiting the number of shoppers they allow in their stores, and has also placed social distancing signs on their floors.
When the pandemic hit the country, many retailers, including Walmart, had implemented shortening the window for shopping. For Walmart stores, many of them are usually open for 24 hours per day prior to COVID-19’s arrival, limiting the store hours would give store staff more opportunity to clean the facilities and replenish their shelves. Since they are deemed essential, Walmart stores were allowed to operate during the emergence of the pandemic.
The retailer will still observe the same cleaning procedures even with extended store operations. “We’ll continue assessing our remaining stores to determine the right time to expand their closing hours,” the retailer added, saying social protocols for shoppers will remain in place.