Walmart and Target Move to Limit Shoppers in Stores

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
Jamie goodman

Walmart and Target are starting to limit foot traffic inside their stores in order to promote social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

While many of our customers have been following the advice of the medical community regarding social distancing and safety, we have been concerned to still see some behaviors in our stores that put undue risk on our people,” Dacona Smith, EVP and COO, Walmart U.S. said.

Starting last weekend, U.S. Walmart stores now allow no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet at a given time, roughly 20% of a store’s capacity. To manage this restriction, associates will oversee a queue at a single-entry door and direct arriving customers there, where they are being admitted one-by-one and counted. Once a store reaches its capacity, customers will be admitted inside on a “1-out-1-in” basis.

“Associates and signage will remind customers of the importance of social distancing while they’re waiting to enter a store – especially before it opens in the morning,” Smith noted.

Walmart is also implementing one-way movement through aisles in a number of stores, using floor markers and direction from associates. Once customers check out, they will be directed to exit through a different door than they entered, to lessen the instances of people closely passing each other.

Target also began actively monitoring and metering shopper traffic in its store last weekend. The retailer said occupancy limits will vary by location and be determined by the store’s square footage and, if metering is required, an associate will provide a designated waiting area outside with social distancing markers.

“We’re incredibly proud of the commitment our more than 350,000 frontline team members have demonstrated to ensure millions of guests can count on Target, and we’ll continue to focus our efforts on supporting them,” said John Mulligan, EVP and COO, Target. “The measures we’re announcing today are aimed at ensuring we are creating a safe environment for the guests who continue to turn to Target, while also providing our team with additional resources as they fulfill an essential service in communities across the country.”

Meanwhile, Lowe’s said last week it has developed an app for its associates’ handheld devices that lets store managers monitor foot traffic and limit entrance based on CDC and local guidelines.

Protective gear

Target also said it will supply workers in stores and distribution centers with “high-quality, disposable face masks and gloves” to wear at work. Shoppers with Target’s same-day delivery service Shipt will be able to obtain masks and gloves. Supplies are expected to arrive within the next two weeks.

Walmart said on March 31st it would make masks and gloves available “as supplies permit” for associates who want to wear them, and that the supplies would arrive in one-two weeks. The will be high-quality masks, but not N95 respirators.

Target also announced that it will donate an additional 2 million KN95 respirator masks to the medical community and continue to explore ways to secure additional inventory for those in critical need.

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