The coronavirus pandemic is affecting nearly every aspect of American life — including where and when people can shop for groceries and other essentials.
From coast to coast, several major supermarket chains are reducing store hours amid the coronavirus outbreak. Even Walmart, which under normal circumstances is famous for keeping many of its stores open 24/7 every day of the year except Christmas, is cutting business hours and closing locations no later than 8:30 p.m. daily.
Other supermarkets, like Trader Joe’s, Stop & Shop, Publix, and Wegmans, are also cutting store hours, even though demand among shoppers has actually increased — and online grocery shopping has proved difficult as a sharp rise in customers try to order for delivery. Grocery stores say they are being forced to scale back hours in order to allow more time for employees to clean stores and refill shelves, which are being emptied daily by worried shoppers eager to stock up.
In other cases, retailers like Apple, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Nike are simply closing physical stores for the next two weeks, as a means to abide by the “social distancing” protocol recommended to limit the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19. As for major restaurants, many are temporarily shifting to a takeout-only model.
The rules, regulations, and business hours for retailers, restaurants, and entertainment venues can vary widely by region. As of 8 p.m. on Monday, March 16, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are enacting new rules to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, which include mandatory closures of movie theaters, gyms, and casinos, and restaurants in these states can offer food for takeout or delivery only. All malls are closed in New Jersey, among other places, as well.
Here are more specifics for closures and store hour changes due to the coronavirus:
Walmart Store Hours
Walmart has cut store hours not once but twice this week. While many Walmarts are normally open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, store hours are being reduced in order for employees to clean stores and restock shelves that have been depleted by shoppers during the coronavirus outbreak. First, the company announced on Sunday that Walmart stores and Neighborhood Markets will currently be open for a maximum of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., until further notice. Then on Wednesday, March 18, Walmart said that most store hours would be reduced further, to 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily. Also, every Tuesday, Walmart stores will open one hour earlier than normal just for customers ages 60 and older.
Target and Costco
On Tuesday, March 17, Costco announced that it has reduced some services, it may limit the number of shoppers allowed in stores, and locations may limit sales of “certain items to help ensure more members are able to access the merchandise they want and need.” More recently, Costco announced new store hours, with all warehouse locations closing at 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Target announced that it has reduced store hours and is closing locations by 9 p.m. daily. Also, Target stores will be open the first hour of every Tuesday and Wednesday strictly for “vulnerable guests, including the elderly and those with underlying health concerns.”
Of course, just because a store is opened, it does not mean that it will have everything you want in stock. Shoppers have been reporting that Target and Costco stores are frequently sold out of hand sanitizer, and toilet paper has sold out at some locations. Several kinds of coronavirus panic purchases — including hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and face masks — are listed as out of stock online at Costco and Target and not available for shipping.
Grocery Stores and the Coronavirus
Several major grocery store chains have reduced hours at stores, as a way to address health concerns and restocking issues related to the coronavirus. Among the supermarkets that have changed store hours stores at least in select locations are:
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Albertsons stores will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. strictly for “vulnerable shoppers,” including “senior citizens and other at-risk populations, such as pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems, who have been advised to avoid leaving home as much as possible.” Alberstons’ grocery store brands include Vons, Shaws, Safeway, Acme, and Albertsons. Check your local store for hours, which have been adjusted.
Discount grocer Aldi says that “some stores will be temporarily closed or have limited hours,” though it “cannot provide specific location information” for the time being. Aldi also says that on every Tuesday and Thursday, stores will open at 8:30 a.m. for one hour strictly for vulnerable shoppers, including older customers, pregnant women, and those with health risks.
All Giant Eagle and Market District supermarkets will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, seven days a week, as of March 15.
As of March 15, all H-E-B grocery stores will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Kroger, which operates its flagship brand in addition to grocery stores like Ralphs, Harris Teeter, and City Market, has reduced store hours in many locations. Use the company’s store locator to check on business hours at your nearby supermarket.
All Publix stores are currently closing at 8 p.m. daily.
Stop & Shop says that as of Monday, March 16, business hours at most stores will be 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pickup services at stores are temporarily suspended as well, due to product shortages. Also, starting on Thursday, March 19, Stop & Shop is launching special hours for older shoppers: From 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. daily, stores will be open only for people ages 60 and up.
Starting on March 16 and lasting until further notice, all Trader Joe’s stores will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Store hours and services may be changed, depending the location. All Wegmans supermarkets in Maryland are now open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., for example, while stores in New England, New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia, and nearly all of Pennsylvania are open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Amazon-owned Whole Foods has adjusted store hours, and most locations open at 8 a.m. daily. Starting on Wednesday, March 18, stores will open one hour early only for customers ages 60 and older.
Retail Store Closures
Several retail chains are closing stores to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Among others, Apple, Nike, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Urban Outfitters say they will keep stores closed at least through Friday, March 27. All non-essential stores in some entire malls are closed too, Pennsylvania’s King of Prussia mall is closed, and the Mall in Columbia, Maryland, is closing for at least a week starting on Monday, March 16, following local orders.