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Big Boxes Change Policies Amid COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes to home improvement stores across North America, but big boxes are also finding it necessary to adopt new operations policies to protect employees and customers.

Learn what Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menards and Walmart are doing as retail at large adapts to COVID-19.

Home Depot

Big-box home improvement chain Home Depot has instituted many new safety measures to protect customers and employees, including:

  • Closing stores at 6 p.m. to allow more time for sanitizing and restocking
  • Limiting the number of customers allowed in a store at once
  • Marking floors to encourage safe social distancing
  • Eliminating major spring promotions to reduce foot traffic into the store
  • Distributing thermometers to store and warehouse employees and asking them to conduct health checks before starting work.

Additionally, Home Depot has added “80 hours of paid time off for all full-time hourly associates and 40 hours of paid time off for part-time hourly associates” to be used before the end of 2020.

Lowe’s

Lowe’s is also taking several precautions to counter COVID-19.

  • Temporarily closing all stores at 7 p.m.
  • Adding “dedicated social distancing ambassadors” to monitor customer traffic in certain areas of the stores
  • Opening up aisle space by removing displays to help customers and associates access products safely
  • Developed an app available on associates’ handheld devices to control customer flow
  • Installed plexiglass shields around all points of sale
  • Implemented a “more robust” curbside pickup process

In addition, Lowe’s has added an extra $2 per hour to each full-time, part-time or seasonal hourly store employee throughout April.

The company is also stopping the sale of N95 masks and donated its inventory to hospitals.

Menards

This week, Menards made the decision to temporarily ban children from its stores, a company spokesperson confirmed to WMTV in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The company’s website also clarifies that pets are no longer permitted in stores and customers who appear to be younger than 16 will be asked to show a driver’s license.

Walmart

Walmart has made a host of changes to its store operations amid COVID-19, including expanding its paid leave policies, closing 24/7 stores overnight for sanitizing and restocking and installing sneeze guards and social distancing markers in stores.

The company has also implemented a new maximum occupancy regulation amid COVID-19. Starting April 4, stores will now allow no more than five customers for every 1,000 square feet of store space at any given time. Associates will monitor customer entry at a single entrance and admit new customers on a ‘one-in, one-out’ policy.

Walmart is also installing signage to control customer traffic through the store, including directions for one-way movement down aisles.

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About Todd Taber

Todd Taber
Todd is trends editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. He graduated from Indiana University where he majored in journalism and French. Throughout his career, he has aimed to highlight small businesses and their community value. He joined NRHA in 2017.

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