With people across the country filling their carts and clearing shelves in a wave of "panic buying" as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, stores are beginning to implement "seniors only" hours. The special hours allow for senior citizens, the most at-risk group, to safely shop and ensures that they have the products that they need.
Ever since cases within the United States began to steadily rise, shoppers have flocked to grocery stores to stock up on essential items. The declaration of states of emergency and public health emergencies by state governments and a national emergency by President Donald Trump has resulted in shortages of hand sanitizer, hand soap, and toilet paper. More and more, even simple every day food items, such as pasta, canned fruits and vegetables, and other perishables, have been hard to come by.
As stores try to keep up with the rising demand, shortening the hours that they are open to allow time to clean and restock the shelves, many are beginning to implement special hours just for seniors and other at-risk groups.
Keep scrolling to see what stores are implementing "seniors only" hours, as compiled by USA Today.
Earlier this week, the company announced that more than 2,200 stores nationwide would be reserving "dedicated shopping hours for 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."
In the announcement, the company said that, at a minimum, every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 to 9 a.m. would be reserved for the most vulnerable shoppers.
On Wednesday's Basha's, Food City and AJ's grocery stores will open from 5 to 6 a.m. for those aged 65 and older. Basha's reservation stores will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. Shoppers will be required to show valid identification, and, if a caretaker is needed, they will be allowed to shop with the senior but will not be allowed to purchase for themselves.
On Wednesday, Dollar General began to dedicate the first hour of operations each day for senior citizens. The company is also closing an hour early to allow employees to clean and restock shelves.
"In keeping with our mission and our ongoing commitment to serve our communities, we are dedicating the first hour of each day to seniors. 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," Todd Vasos, Dollar General's CEO, said. "During these unprecedented times, Dollar General is diligently working to meet the ongoing needs of our customers and communities. We are proud to live our mission and provide customers with everyday low prices on the household essentials that are used and replenished most often."
Fareway Meat & Grocery
Starting on Wednesday and until further notice, Fareway Meat & Grocery will open to shoppers 65 and older, expecting mothers, and those with "increased susceptibility to serious illness" from 8 to 9 a.m. Monday through Saturday.
While Fresh Market stores will continue to operate under normal business hours, the company has reserved the hours of 8-9 a.m. Monday through Friday for senior citizens and other at-risk persons.
In order to "help support the shopping needs of the elderly in our community," Texas-based retailer Food Town will open from 7 to 8 a.m. to allow those aged 65 and older to shop in a less crowded environment. A government-issued state ID or Texas driver's license is required.
Those 65 and older can shop from 7 to 8 a.m. beginning on Wednesday. In its announcement, the company said that customers "may be asked for ID."
Jersey City, New Jersey
Jersey City, New Jersey Mayor Steven Fulop announced that grocery stores in the city reserve two hours, from 9 to 11, every morning for elderly, disabled, and pregnant shoppers. The rule went into effect Tuesday and only applies to grocery stores that have three or more cash registers.
To help "elderly, disabled, those with compromised immune systems, chemo patients, etc.," California-based company Mother's Markets has implemented "Safe Shop Wednesdays" from 6 to 7 a.m. every Wednesday. The company is also offering free home delivery for the high-risk groups with promo code FREE4SENIORS.
Northgate Gonzalez Market
At its 41 locations across Southern California, Northgate Gonzalez Market has started a special hour of shopping for the disabled and seniors 65 and older from 7 to 8 a.m.
Safey has reserved the hours of 7 to 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays to "those vulnerable shoppers who must leave home to obtain their groceries, unless otherwise locally mandated."
The first hour of each day, or from 6-7 a.m., at Schnucks will be reserved seniors aged 60 and above, and for those who are most at risk of COVID-19. The reserved hours went into affect Wednesday and will continue indefinitely.
Beginning on Thursday, Florida-based chain Sedano's Supermarkets’ 35 locations will open from 7 to 8 a.m. for seniors 65 and older and "the immunocompromised members of our communities."
Smith’s Food & Drug Stores
On Tuesday, the company announced in a Facebook post that "starting Wednesday, March 18, Smith's Food & Drug Stores will dedicate the first hour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7:00 am to 8:00 am, solely to the shopping needs of senior citizens until further notice."
The company added that staff will be on hand to help shoppers who need assistance and special accommodations. The company also announced that it is "waiving the pick-up fee at point of transaction, for online orders received curbside for customers whose verified age is 60 years and older through April 18, 2020."
Stop & Shop
From 6 to 7:30 a.m., the retailer, with more than 400 stores throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, will give shoppers 60 and older 90 minutes to shop. The special hours go into effect on Thursday.
Target announced Tuesday that stores across the country will revere the first hour of shopping every Wednesday for "vulnerable guests." The retailer is "encouraging other guests to plan their shopping trips around this time frame."
All 50 Vallarta Supermarkets locations will open from 7 to 8 a.m. for shoppers 65 and older, pregnant women, and those with disabilities beginning on Wednesday.
Whole Foods Market
Starting Wednesday, all Whole Foods Market stores in the U.S. and Canada will open an hour early for customers 60 and older.