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Home Improvement Big Boxes Requiring Customers to Wear Masks

Many major retailers, including big-box home improvement stores, are asking shoppers to wear masks in their stores to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Learn more about how Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart are approaching this new policy in their stores.

Home Depot
Beginning Wednesday, July 22, shoppers at all U.S. Home Depot stores will be required to wear masks unless they are under 2 years old or have a valid medical condition.

Currently, about 85 percent of Home Depot stores operate in areas with an existing mask mandate in public spaces, the company states. All Home Depot employees are required to wear masks in retail stores, distribution centers and other Home Depot locations.

“We appreciate all of our associates who have been working so hard to serve our customers with the essential products they need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and we want to thank our customers for their cooperation as we work to protect everyone in our stores,” says Ann-Marie Campbell, executive vice president of stores for Home Depot.

The company will post new signage around its stores and add audio announcements over PA systems to remind customers of the new requirement. Social distancing captains will provide masks to shoppers who do not have one.

Lowe’s
Effective July 20, customers at Lowe’s locations will also be asked to wear masks while shopping in stores. The company will offer free masks at its customer service centers while supplies last.

The company will also post signs throughout its stores reminding customers of the new policy. It will continue using social distancing ambassadors throughout the store to encourage shoppers to stay apart to reduce the chance of transmission.

Lowe’s employees have been required to wear masks since May.

“As a retailer offering essential goods, we have a responsibility to our associates, customers and small businesses in communities nationwide to help provide a safe shopping experience,” says Marvin Ellison, Lowe’s president and CEO. “For the safety of everyone in our stores, we ask that customers wear masks, and to make this new standard less restrictive, we will make masks available to those who need them.”

Walmart
Starting July 20, customers at Walmart and Sam’s Club will have to wear face masks while shopping in stores to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Walmart joins several other retailers, including Apple, Starbucks, Target, CVS and Kroger, that are moving to require customers to wear masks while visiting their retail locations.

More than 65 percent of Walmart’s 5,000 U.S.-based stores operate in an area that has imposed some kind of mask ordinance. The companywide policy will help promote consistency across locations, the chief operating officers of Walmart and Sam’s Clubs say.

Before the policy goes into effect, Walmart will post signage and train its associates on how the policy will affect daily operations.

Walmart also announced the creation of a health ambassador position. Health ambassadors will wear specific uniforms and be stationed near the entrance to remind customers of Walmart’s mask policy.

“We know it may not be possible for everyone to wear a face covering. Our associates will be trained on those exceptions to help reduce friction for the shopper and make the process as easy as possible for everyone,” the company states.

What do masks mean for your business?
High Performance Retailing spoke with Julie Schweber from the Society for Human Resource Management regarding the implications of masks in retail spaces. Learn her insight to help position your business in the months ahead.

About Todd Taber

Todd Taber
Todd is an assistant 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 and now serves on the news and marketing teams. In his free time, he likes to run, spend time with family and travel the country.

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