Walmart thought it was helping senior shoppers by adding a special "senior hour" for those most at risk of contracting the coronavirus to store schedules. However, some older shoppers are not happy with the schedule because it is too early in the morning and not convenient. Like many other retailers, Walmart first instituted the "senior hour" in mid-March and announced last week it will continue indefinitely.
Walmart changed operating hours in March to allow employees more time to clean up the stores and restock shelves during the coronavirus pandemic. Even 24-hour stores had their schedules changed to opening from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Walmart also added the "senior hour" on Tuesday, which would allow only people over the age of 60 to shop in the stores before the 7 a.m. opening to the general public.
The plan was originally set to end in April but was then extended to May. Last week, Walmart executives told USA Today the "senior hour" will be part of the schedule until further notice. "As for operating hours, right now our priority is making additional services available (auto care center, vision center, etc.) as it is safe to do so," the company told the outlet on June 1. "After that we’ll decide the best approach to expanding hours."
Some seniors who spoke with Inc.com were not happy about the "senior hours" because they are inconvenient. "I'd have to wake up at 4:30 get dressed and out the door by 5:30 in order to arrive at Walmart by 6:00," one 84-year-old shopper wrote. The shopper called the idea "idiotic" since it is just one day a week and they should not have to "drive in the dark for your safety."
"I am a tail-end Baby Boomer and over age 60," another shopper wrote to the site. "While it's admirable that Walmart (and other retailers) are opening early for 'seniors' and those with compromised immune systems/other health issues, I will not be getting up at 5 a.m. to go shopping!"
In the past few weeks, Walmart shoppers have also taken to Twitter to complain about their experiences with senior hours. One person complained that the senior hour is a "joke" because their 98-year-old uncle saw young people still allowed into the store on March 24. On April 7, another shopper said their Minnesota store was "crowded with employees and young shoppers," which defeated the purpose of senior hours. Another shopper complained that his father would have visited a Walmart store during the senior hour, but it was "too early for him."