Walmart limits number of shoppers in stores; instituting one-way aisles

Marianne Wilson
Walmart social distancing

Walmart has taken additional steps to ensure the health and safety of its employees and customers during the COVID-19 crisis.

The retailer is limiting the number of customers who can be in a store at any one time. No more than five customers for each 1,000 sq. ft. can be in a store at a given time, which is roughly 20% of a store’s capacity. The new policy went into effect Saturday, April 4. 

To manage the restriction, employees at a store will mark a queue at a single-entry door (in most cases the grocery entrance) and direct arriving customers there, where they will be admitted one-by-one and counted. 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.  Once a store reaches its capacity, customers will be admitted inside on a “1-out-1-in” basis.

Additionally, the retail giant plans to institute one-way aisle traffic starting next week in a number of its stores, using floor markers and direction from employees.  

Walmart said it will continue to put signage in stores to remind customers of the need to maintain social distancing – especially in lines. And once customers check out, they will be directed to exit through a different door than they entered, which should help lessen the instances of people closely passing each other, according to the company.

The new measures follow other steps the retailer has taken in recent weeks, including installing sneeze guards and social distance in stores, closing stores overnight for cleaning and restocking, beginning employee temperature checks and making gloves and facial masks available to employees who want them. 

“We always want people to feel welcome at Walmart, and we know that in ordinary times a store is a gathering place for members of a community to connect and socialize,” stated Dacona Smith, executive VP and COO, Walmart U.S. “We look forward to the time when that is again the case; however, we now want to prioritize health and safety by encouraging customers to do their shopping at a distance from others, then head home.”

Smith noted that many Walmart customers have been following the advice of the medical community regarding social distancing and safety, but the company has been “concerned to still see some behaviors in our stores that put undue risk on our people.”

“We want to encourage customers to bring the fewest number of people per family necessary to shop, allow for space with other customers while shopping, and practice social distancing while waiting in lines,” she said. “We’re also seeing states and municipalities set varying policies regarding crowd control – which has created some confusion regarding shopping.”

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