By Debbie Koenig
March 19, 2020 -- Supermarkets, discount stores, and big-box retailers across the country are adjusting their hours and approach in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many have begun to offer dedicated shopping hours to seniors and those with health conditions that make them particularly vulnerable. Large national chains including Wal-Mart and Target have set aside 1 hour each week. Dollar General and Whole Foods are dedicating the first hour of every shopping day.
Several large regional chains offer special shopping hours more often. In the Northeast, Stop & Shop opens its 400+ stores from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. daily to those most at risk. The Fresh Market reserves 8-9 a.m. Monday through Friday at its stores in 22 states.
Some chains have come up with other ways to accommodate the vulnerable. Publix, for example, offers curbside pickup or delivery. The warehouse club Costco is limiting the number of shoppers allowed inside and encouraging employees to practice social distancing. That means to avoid large gatherings and stay 6 feet away from others.
In addition to their special shopping options, most of these stores have also shortened their opening hours overall to give their staff time to sanitize and restock the stores.