Walmart will stay open later, joining other chains

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The retailer has extended the closing time of some stores from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. in recent weeks. By Monday, more than 4,000 of its 4,700 US stores will begin closing later, the company said Friday. All Walmart stores will continue to open at 7 a.m. except Tuesday, when stores open an hour earlier for seniors.

Walmart is adding hours as coronavirus cases increase across much of the country.

A Walmart spokesperson said the overtime will allow customers to stretch out over a longer period of time. Social distancing is important in preventing the spread of the virus, and Walmart has added distance decals on the floor and capacity limits in stores.

The longer hours will also make things more convenient for customers, said Neil Saunders, managing director of consultancy GlobalData Retail. Making the change now allows workers to adjust to extended hours before shopping spikes in the busier vacation district, Saunders said.

In March, Walmart stores, most of which were normally open 24 hours a day, began to close overnight in response to the coronavirus outbreak. At the time, the company said that shortening store hours “would still help” employees restock shelves overnight and clean stores.

The Walmart spokesperson said it will continue the same cleaning protocols with its extended hours and “will continue to assess our remaining stores to determine the right time to extend their closing hours.”

Walmart (WMT), the country’s largest retailer, was named as a core business when the pandemic hit, which kept it open as other retailers had to close. The company has hired 200,000 new employees in recent months to meet customer demand.

Other leading retailers and grocers have also shortened hours of operation to step up cleaning procedures and restock shelves during the early stages of the outbreak, but have since extended their hours.

Kroger (KR), for example, said in June he decided to return to normal store hours in parts of the South and Midwest in part because he hired more workers.

“We have expanded our supply chain, improved cleaning procedures in our stores and hired more than 100,000 new employees,” a Kroger spokesperson told CNN Business. “These steps have allowed us to extend store hours in certain areas to safely meet the evolving needs of our customers as the country prepares to reopen.

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