Crowded stores can become COVID-19 hot spots, but essential retailers are taking steps to make sure shoppers can maintain proper social distancing practices. Some companies, like Walmart and Southeastern Grocers, are limiting the number of customers allowed inside, while Walgreens is expanding services that remove the need to enter a store altogether.
Walmart already has implemented a series of precautionary measures, including overnight restocking and social distancing markers, but the retail giant will now take the next step by limiting in-store traffic to five customers for every 1,000 square feet of space. Each location will be limited to a single entry point where associates will count and admit shoppers one by one.
The retailer will enforce social distancing practices through one-way movement in a number of stores, which will limit the possibility of shoppers coming into close contact with each other. Additionally, exit doors will be separate from entrances to further reduce contact.
Southeastern Grocers will implement its own limits at its BI-LO, Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie stores, along with precautions such as Plexiglas partitions at registers and other counters and touch-free payment options at all checkouts. The retailer also will conduct temperature checks and allow workers to wear masks and gloves while working.
Additionally, Southeastern Grocers will hire 5,000 temporary workers who have experienced restricted hours or job loss due to COVID-19. Frontline associates also will be eligible for weekly bonuses and free meals, and the company will expedite its first-quarter store bonuses.
Walgreens has yet to implement traffic queuing, but the retailer is taking several other steps to limit the need for shoppers to go inside:
- Expanding Postmates Delivery Parameters: Walgreens and Postmates have expanded their on-demand delivery partnership across the entire continental U.S., letting shoppers have both health and wellness and household items delivered directly to them;
- Adding Non-Medical Drive-Thru Offerings: More than 60 front-end products have been made available for purchase at Walgreens pharmacy drive-thru locations, including medical supplies, sanitizers, select over-the-counter products, certain grocery items and paper goods; and
- Eliminating Delivery Fees: Walgreens will waive delivery fees for all eligible prescriptions on next-day delivery, as well as all Walgreens.com purchases with no minimum purchase required.
The pharmacy retailer also is offering additional safety for associates, such as providing health checks and masks, installing Plexiglass screens in certain markets and increasing the frequency of cleaning procedures. Walgreens will post social distancing signage and adjust store hours for safer stocking and cleaning efforts as well.