KEY POINTS

  • To promote social distancing at their locations, in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both chains will begin limiting the number of customers allowed in their stores at a time, in addition to changing their hours.

  • Target has over 350,000 employees and 1,871 locations in 50 states. Walmart has approximately 1.5 million workers at more than 5,000 locations

Big-box store chains Walmart and Target are making new policy changes influenced by the coronavirus pandemic. To promote social distancing at their locations, in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both chains will begin limiting the number of customers allowed in their stores at a time, in addition to changing their hours.

Target confirmed Thursday that it will begin controlling the number of customers allowed in their stores in order to make social distancing easier to accomplish.

“To promote social distancing with its team and guests, Target will monitor store traffic, and meter, or limit, the number of guests inside stores, when needed,” a Target press release explained. “Occupancy limits will vary by location and be determined by the store's specific square footage to enhance the average space per person and reduce the possibility of congestion. If metering is required, a Target team member will provide a designated waiting area outside with social distancing markers.”

Walmart on Friday made a similar announcement. It will also require gloves and masks available to employees who wish to use them. Both chains put the new rules into effect Saturday.

“Starting Saturday, we will limit the number of customers who can be in a store at once,” read the company's press release. “Stores will now allow no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet at a given time, roughly 20 percent of a store's capacity.”

Target has over 350,000 employees and 1,871 locations in 50 states, according to its official website. Walmart's official website says the company "employs approximately 1.5 million U.S. associates at more than 5,000 stores and clubs nationwide."

Companies like Walmart and Target have also recently had their ability to sell certain products hampered by state rulings in response to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Recently, Vermont banned the sale of non-essential items at the two chains, as well as at Costco, in an effort to promote social distancing and to discourage shoppers from going out for non-essential shopping.

Walmart is among the US companies hiring people en masse to keep up with consumer demand during the coronavirus crisis Walmart is among the US companies hiring people en masse to keep up with consumer demand during the coronavirus crisis Photo: AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM