With COVID-19 (Coronavirus) shutting down most “non-essential” stores and businesses, the ones that remain open are beginning to resemble an Olympic sport. Concerned shoppers have packed supermarkets and warehouse clubs and cleared the shelves of food staples, household, and cleaning supplies.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, retailers have pivoted to accommodate demand while caring for their most venerable customers. They have restructured their hours of operation to allow more cleaning and restocking. Some have gone even further to help their older customers and other high-risk patrons by adding special times for this small group of people.
I have researched and constructed a list of national stores and businesses that have embraced special shopping hours for seniors and other at-risk shoppers.
- Big Lots - When: First hour of shopping every day (confirm the opening time with the local store) - "Senior citizens and those most vulnerable to the virus" are invited to shop the first hour every day that stores are open. Big Lots will also start offering curbside pickup to support social-distancing efforts.
- Costco - When: 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday – Costco will allow patrons 60 and older their own shopping hour twice a week. The pharmacy will be open at that time.
- Dollar General - When: First hour of shopping every day (check with local store for opening time) - Dollar General recently announced "senior hour encouragement" and says all other customers should plan to shop after the first hour to allow older customers more opportunity to get their needed items.
- Fresh Market - When: 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday - Fresh Market is welcoming "seniors and other individuals most at risk" to shop early for one hour each weekday.
- Giant - When: 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. every day - The mid-Atlantic grocery chain is opening an hour every day for customers 60 and older as well as "individuals with compromised immune systems."
- Giant Eagle - When: 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. Monday through Wednesday starting March 23 - This Ohio and Pennsylvania chain will open to seniors, shoppers with disabilities, and anyone who is immunocompromised one hour early three days a week, and pledges to have staffers available to help anyone who needs extra assistance.
- Harris Teeter - When: 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. Mondays and Thursdays starting March 23 - Shoppers 60 and over will be able to shop early two days a week. The southeastern chain is also allowing seniors only to use its Express Lane online pickup service on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. They are also waiving their normal $4.95 fee. Seniors who prefer delivery can pay $5 for that option during those hours.
- H-E-B - When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day (by phone) - Texas-based H-E-B and Favor Delivery have announced a "senior support line" for customers 60 and over. Seniors can place their orders via phone for same-day delivery. This will eliminate the need to come into the store at all. Delivery and service fees are waived for 30 days, but be mindful of the $10 tip for the delivery person that is added automatically.
- Kroger (Select Locations) - When: Varies: Kroger has announced special hours for seniors and other vulnerable shoppers in certain locations, including Michigan as well as southwestern Ohio and northern Kentucky. Customers not in those areas should call their local stores to check if/when the program will be rolled out in their area.
- Price Chopper and Market 32 - When: 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. every day - The upstate New York and New England stores will be open "exclusively to seniors" for one hour each morning.
- Publix - When: 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday beginning March 24 - Customers age 65 and over are invited to shop early twice a week at Publix. Pharmacies will also be open.
- Safeway, Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Vons, Acme - When: 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday - These grocery stores and all those under the Albertsons umbrella have reserved two mornings a week for "senior citizens and other at-risk populations, such as pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems." The company encourages customers to confirm hours with their local stores.
- Stop & Shop - When: 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. every day - Stop & Shop is reserving the first 90 minutes of shopping for any customers 60 and over, as well as anyone with "weakened immune systems."
- Target - When: First hour of shopping every Wednesday (check with local store for opening time) Target is open for all "vulnerable guests" to shop the first hour of each Wednesday, this includes customers over 65, pregnant women, and anyone else the CDC considers at high risk.
- Trader Joe's - When: 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. daily - While Trader Joe’s will not be opening early for seniors, it will “maintain an additional line outside the front door for our senior customers” to make sure older patrons can get in and out of the store more easily. They have been limiting the number of shoppers at its stores, because of their smaller footprint than larger grocery stores.
- Walgreens - When: 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. every Tuesday – Walgreens has several perks in place for seniors. They will offer a special senior shopping hour, plus Tuesday-only savings for customers 55 and over. Those include 30% off Walgreens-brand items and 20% off other full-price items. Seniors will also be able to get free shipping without an order minimum when they shop online, plus drive-through shopping for select items.
- Walmart - When: 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. every Tuesday starting March 24 - Walmart will soon welcome customers 60 and over an hour before the stores open to the rest of the public each Tuesday. Their pharmacies and vision centers will be open.
- Whole Foods - When: First hour of shopping every day (check with local store for opening time) - Whole Foods is setting aside an hour each morning for customers 60 and older. It has also noted that stores may close up to two hours early each evening for additional time to sanitize and re-stock.
- Winn-Dixie, Bi-Lo, Harveys, Fresco y Mas - When: 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday - "Seniors and high-risk customers" are encouraged to shop an hour early every weekday at these chains owned by parent company Southeastern Grocers. Pharmacies will be open.
This list is not complete as your smaller local and regional businesses may offer the same services. These hours of operation are also subject to change with the changing coronavirus pandemic environment. Always check with your local store before heading out for these special shopping hours. I just wanted to give a shout out to those big businesses who are making a big difference in our community by helping promote safe shopping for all.
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