Walmart will later remain open in most of its stores in the United States, joining other large chains that have begun to stay open longer than they were during the early days of the pandemic.
The retailer has in recent weeks extended the closing time of some stores from 8:30 PM to 10 PM. The company said on Friday that more than 4,000 of its 4,700 stores in the United States will begin closing at a later date by Monday. All Walmart stores will continue to open at 7 am, except on Tuesdays, when stores open an hour early for seniors.
Walmart adds hours as coronavirus cases rise in most parts of the country.
A Walmart spokesperson said the extra hours would allow customers to splash out over a longer period of time. Social distancing is important to prevent the virus from spreading, and Walmart has added floor space stickers and capacity limits in stores.
Neil Saunders, managing director at consultancy GlobalData Retail, said extending business hours would make it more convenient for customers. Making the change now allows workers to adjust to the long hours before shopping spikes in the busy holiday quarter, Saunders said.
In March, Walmart stores, which were mostly open 24 hours a day, began to close overnight in response to the coronavirus outbreak. At the time, the company said shortening store hours would “help” employees restock shelves overnight and clean stores.
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A Walmart spokesperson said it will continue the same cleaning protocols with its extended hours and will continue to evaluate our remaining stores to determine when to expand their closing hours.
Walmart (WMT), the nation’s largest retailer, was designated a primary business when the pandemic struck, allowing it to stay open as other retailers had to close their doors. The company has hired 200,000 new employees in recent months to meet customer demand.
Other major retailers and groceries have also shortened business hours to ramp up cleaning procedures and restock shelves during the early stages of the outbreak, but have extended their hours since.
Kruger (KR), for example, said in June that it decided to return to normal working hours in parts of the South and Midwest because it had hired more workers.
A Kruger spokesperson previously told CNN Business: “We expanded our supply chain, strengthened cleaning procedures in our stores, and employed more than 100,000 new workers.” “These steps have allowed us to expand the store’s operating hours in specific areas to safely meet the evolving needs of our customers as the country moves towards reopening.