IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Stores across the United States are hosting special hours for the elderly and people with weakened immune systems so they can safely shop for essentials during the coronavirus pandemic.
People over the age of 60 and immuno-deficient individuals are at higher risk of dying from the highly contagious COVID-19 than young and healthy members of the general population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These individuals may be more vulnerable than others while grocery shopping. Stores around the country have been flooded with frantic shoppers buying toilet paper, non-perishable goods and other household items in recent weeks.
In response, major retailers have begun carving out time for those more vulnerable to the virus to buy food and supplies without having to worry about large crowds.
Fred Meyer and QFC
Fred Meyer and QFC have partnered to offer special hours for Seniors and other high-risk customers as defined by the CDC. Starting Monday, March 23, both companies will reserve the hours of 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. for respective customers on specific days. All stores will reserve these hours each Monday through Thursday until further notice. On those days, shopping for all other customers will begin at 8am.
Beginning Friday, March 20, all Broulim’s locations will implement Senior Shopping Hours, Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 6-7 a.m.
Store teams will be opening doors and assisting senior guests in and out of the store. Guests who are feeling flu-like symptoms are encouraged not to participate. Guests are also encouraged to use recommended social distancing practices whenever possible.
Walmart, the nation's largest grocery store chain, said it will run hour-long senior shopping for people aged 60 and older one hour before its stores are scheduled to open each day beginning on March 24 and ending on April 28.
The company recently adjusted its operating hours to 7 am to 8:30 pm nationwide to allow its employees more time to restock shelves and sanitize stores in accordance with recommended guidelines from the CDC.
Walmart stores that open later than 7 am "will continue their regular starting hours," the company said in a statement released yesterday.
"We know our older customers could be more vulnerable to the coronavirus," the company said. "We are paying very close attention to our stores and communities and will continue making the necessary changes to help make sure our associates are taken care of and that our customers can get what they need."
Smith’s Food & Drug Stores will dedicate the first hour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. solely to the shopping needs of senior citizens until further notice.
Each store will have staff on hand to help those that need special accommodations.
For all other customers, temporary store hours will continue to be 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. until further notice.
Also, Smith’s is evaluating extending pharmacy hours to open earlier for seniors.
In addition to exclusive shopping hours for seniors, Smith’s is waiving the pick-up fee at the point of transaction, for online orders received curbside for customers whose verified age is 60 years and older through April 18, 2020. Smith’s will continue to evaluate the situation to see if the fee waiver should be extended.
At Target, seniors and people with health issues will be allowed to shop an hour before the stores open on Wednesday mornings, according to a statement released Tuesday.
Whole Foods also announced special hours for seniors on Tuesday. The Amazon-owned grocery chain's stores in the U.S. and Canada now serve customers 60 and older an hour before opening for the general public.
Dollar General stores across the country started offering "senior hour" on Tuesday. In a Monday statement, Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos his company's stores will dedicate the first hour of each day to seniors looking to shop.
"We appreciate our customers' understanding of our decision and request they visit our stores later in the morning to allow at-risk populations the ability to purchase the items they need at affordable prices," Vasos said.