WASHINGTON – Around mid-week, notices, news items and radio and TV tips began to pop up announcing special coronavirus related shopping hours for senior citizens around the country. The District of Columbia and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs – known to locals as the DMV – are no exception. (But the same or similar deals are now available throughout most of the US as well.)
The reasons for the special hours are straightforward. Senior citizens and those with special health issues are among the most vulnerable to developing dangerous and sometimes fatal respiratory issues when infected with the Wuhan coronavirus.
Why the special shopping hours for senior citizens?
Protecting coronavirus-vulnerable populations. That’s the main reason why many key stores – primarily grocery stores, dollar stores and wholesale clubs – have created special senior citizens only coronavirus shopping hours. This feature provides seniors with the opportunity to avoid crowds of everyday shoppers, which tends to heighten the risk seniors will pick up the virus from the general populace, even if they otherwise spend the rest of their time in their homes.
A second, and equally important reason in a more practical sense: Panic shopping to stock up on key items like toilet paper tends to clear the shelves of these items early in the day, and many stores don’t have enough product to restock for the rest of the day. Or longer. The special early hours offered to senior citizens in participating store gives seniors first dibs on restocked products before they disappear from the shelves again later in the day due to the ongoing coronavirus panic.
Self-serve and sit-down areas in all stores that offered them are currently closed until further notice due to safety concerns. I.e.,restaurant-style seating and the closeness it entails may prove conducive to the spread of the coronavirus. That’s another reason why most restaurants are now closed except for those offering carryout.
Additionally, all stores remaining open during the current emergency have instituted special, intensive cleaning, sanitation and restocking procedures. Most of these are detailed on the company websites. Entries below provide key links for readers wishing to check on the details.
Finally, senior citizens forming lines to enter stores, like everyone else, are informally expected to maintain a roughly 6-foot separation between themselves and the next shopper — again to help prevent the kind of close contact that may be one of the methods the novel coronavirus spreads.
Stores offering special shopping hours for DMV senior citizens
In alpha order by establishment, the following list was correct and up-to-date to the best of our knowledge as of Friday, March 27, 2020.
Stores open at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and “reserve the first hour of business for vulnerable shoppers” according to a release. The discount grocer specifically includes “senior citizens, expectant mothers and those with underlying health concerns” in this special shopping offer.
Located locally in Virginia, Maryland, this high-end specialty grocery store has allocated the first hour of shopping for the elderly and high-risk guests. You can find shopping hours at your local Balducci’s by following this link.
With local stores in Maryland and Virginia (but not the District), this chain is setting aside the first hour of each shopping day for senior citizens and other shoppers in vulnerable categories.
Beginning earlier this week, all locations are open one hour early every day for club members 60 or older. This opening hour runs from 8 to 9 a.m. daily. Stores will admit seniors via a designated entrance.
According to the Costco’s website’s coronavirus information page, beginning March 30, 2020, “On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, Costco warehouses will open from 8 to 9 a.m. for members ages 60 and older, and for those with physical impairments. During this early hour, the pharmacy will be open, but the Costco Food Court will not. The company notes that senior citizens hours “apply to all stores with the exception of Costco’s Business Center locations.” Note that the Food Court is only open for carryout. Seating has been eliminated for the duration of the emergency situation.
Also, beginning on March 30, “Costco warehouses will close at 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Gas stations will close at 7 p.m.”
This large “dollar store” chain is catering to seniors by offering set-aside time during each store’s first hour of operation. Apparently, these hours are also reserved for their “most vulnerable neighbors,” likely meaning pregnant women and those with disabilities. DG is also limiting purchases on certain items, allowing three per customer for paper products, hand sanitizer, and sanitary wipes. Find your state’s stores and shopping hours here.
The company’s website states the following: “[U]ntil further notice, in an effort to help protect the most vulnerable population during this pandemic, the Company is dedicating the stores’ first operational hours each day to at-risk customers, including senior citizens, individuals with pre-existing health conditions, and pregnant women. We urge all other customers to begin their shopping trips at least one hour after the stores open. Dollar Tree (and Family Dollar below) are closing their stores at 8 p.m. for purposes of re-stocking and applying new deep-cleaning protocols
Family Dollar is now part of Dollar Tree and has adopted the same early admittance policy listed under Dollar Tree above. Ditto for the early closing policy listed above.
Last time we checked,Fresh Market’s three area stores hadn’t modified their store hours. Like most other stores, however, they have increased sanitation in their stores and temporarily suspending self-sampling stations. You can find their current store opening and closing policy here.
Giant’s Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia and Delaware locales are offering “dedicated shopping hours for senior citizens 60-and-older and individuals with compromised immune systems,” according to a recent release. The dedicated time for these shoppers is from 6 to 7 a.m. “every day of the week for this vulnerable population to shop and practice social distancing.”
The following Harris Teeter tweet gives you the stores’ new senior citizens policy, effective March 20, 2020.
Senior shopping hours: Every Monday & Thursday from 6am – 7am for shoppers aged 60 and over.
ExpressLane Online Shopping pick-up times reserved for seniors: 9am – 2pm every Thursday. No fee & $5 delivery option for seniors. Find the latest updates here: https://t.co/FxCi0f16Yp pic.twitter.com/0i8v1uCCVA
— Harris Teeter (@HarrisTeeter) March 20, 2020
No special hours as of March 27, 2020. as listed a statement describing their increased cleaning protocols and efforts to mitigate the coronavirus risk. You can read it here.
Sam’s is now offering twice-weekly special hours for seniors, plus people with disabilities and / or compromised immune systems. Current special hours: Tuesday and Thursday from 7 to 9 a.m. “until further notice.” The warehouse club now also offers a “Shop from Your Car” concierge service.
Now part of the Andersons grocery family, Safeway stores are reserving the hours of 7 to 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays for “those vulnerable shoppers who must leave home to obtain their groceries, unless otherwise locally mandated,” according to a release.
Target now reserves “the first hour of shopping each Wednesday at stores nationwide for vulnerable guests,” according to a release. The chain also encourages all other shoppers to “plan their shopping trips around this time frame.”
The first hour of each shopping day, from 9 to 10 a.m. locally, is now reserved for seniors without exactly specifying an age range, which is usually 60 or 65 and above.
Walgreens has now designated Tuesdays as “Seniors Day.” Seniors, their caregivers and their immediate families can exclusively shop at Walgreens from 8 to 9 a.m. Tuesdays. In addition, customers 55 years and older will get special discounts on Tuesdays, including 30% off from the regular price on Walgreens-branded products and 20% off the regular price of national brands.
According to a statement appearing via the company’s website, through April 28, “Walmart stores are offering a senior shopping hour every Tuesday for customers age 60 and older who may be more vulnerable. This will start one hour before the store opens.”
In the same announcement, the company notes that most Walmart pharmacies “are open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. We also have a dedicated shopping hour on Tuesday mornings from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. for seniors ages 60 and older.” (Italics via CDN.) For local stores and hours, check Walmart’s store finder.
Wegmans’ policy differs from other local stores in that they are not currently offering DMV senior citizens any special shopping hours. Their stated reason for this appears at this link. In short, management thinks it unwise to concentrate the coronavirus-vulnerable population in one place at one time, and it’s a fair point. However, Wegmans is adjusting their hours of operation temporarily so its employees have more time to clean and restock. Current Virginia and Maryland shopping are from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wegmans’ statement also notes that its employees are encouraged to stay at home if they’re ill.
In addition, similar to other stores, Wegmans has essentially shut down their self-serve and restaurant-like areas until further notice. The company is also encouraging its employees to stay home if they’re sick and to increase how often they clean the stores.
Until further notice, all Whole Foods Market stores in the U.S. are letting customers who are 60 and older shop one hour before the stores open to the public. In the DMV, that means that seniors age 60+ can shop from 7 to 8 a.m. As with other stores, that doesn’t exclude seniors from shopping at other hours. But 7 to 8 a.m. are for seniors only. Note that individual stores in the area will have reduced closing hours in the evening, which vary slightly among local stores. Click here for a store finder.
Derived from online news sources and corporate web sites plus our own intrepid gumshoe work, all info in this article is verified as current as of today’s posting (March 28, 2020). Plus some of our own intrepid gumshoe work. That’s it for now. We’ll keep an eye out for any revisions to info appearing in today’s article. Likewise, we’ll continue to look into other stores remaining open during this crisis if they’re offering senior hours.
Readers outside of the DC Metro area will find that most of the information here applies to their own area stores as well, but times will, of course, be local, not ET. Click on the store links above to verify for your locale.
In most cases, special senior citizens shopping hours are projected to end sometime in mid- to late-April. That assumes this coronavirus crisis peaks and subsides by that time, which an apparent majority of experts believe it will. Right now, at least.
— Headline image:
“The line wrapped around the back of the building at this Livonia, Michigan Costco. The big-box store opens its doors exclusively to its members aged 60 years and older or those with physical disabilities 8 – 9 AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays amid the coronavirus pandemic.” Caption and image via screen capture of MLive YouTube video.