Walmart resumes customer counting in its stores

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Walmart from Saturday resumes monitoring and counting the number of customers entering its stores, to ensure it does not exceed capacity limits, as coronavirus cases rise at record rates across the country .As of April, Walmart has limited the number of people in its big box stores to no more than five customers for about 1,000 square feet, or about 20% of a store’s capacity. These levels can also vary depending on local mandates, the company said.

For a while, however, the largest retailer in the United States had stopped physically counting people as they walked in and out.

“We know from months of count data in our stores that the vast majority of the time our stores were not meeting our self-imposed 20% count capacity,” a Walmart spokesperson told CNBC in an email release. “To be on the safe side, we have started counting the number of people entering and leaving our stores again. ”

The move comes as America continues to push new Covid records. More than 68,500 are hospitalized with Covid-19 across the country, more than at any time during the pandemic, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project, managed by reporters from The Atlantic.

And the cases continue to increase. Over the past seven days, the United States has reported an average of more than 139,900 cases per day, up more than 35% from a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by the University Johns Hopkins. The seven-day average of new daily cases has hit a new high every day at least for the past ten days, according to data from Hopkins.

Large grocery chains have now started to reinstate purchase limits for certain items, like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. In the spring, when the pandemic hit the United States, frantic consumers flocked to stores, stocked up and left shelves devoid of staples like canned beans and frozen vegetables. The industry has called the reaction a “panic buy”. Many retailers were unprepared for the surge in spending on basic necessities.

Earlier this month, Kroger and Florida-based Publix Super Markets reinstated toilet tissue and paper towel purchasing limits.

Giant Food, an American supermarket chain that operates locations in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, is once again limiting purchases of toilet paper and paper towels.

Wegmans placed limits on paper towels, household cleaners and disinfectant wipes.

Retailers and grocers are now having to deal with the pandemic during the holiday season, which tends to attract more people to stores to buy gifts and ingredients for family dinners.

In an effort to split customer visits over the holidays, Walmart said it will continue to sell Black Friday in-store sales, but the company divides them into three different sales events.

–CNBC Wants fire contributed to this story.

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