Target's plans for curbside grocery pickup have been put on ice for now as the coronavirus pandemic makes those plans too much of a health risk for everyone involved, the company said in an announcement.
The coronavirus has caused people to have to practice social distancing, lest they unknowingly catch or transmit the respiratory system illness that has hospitals overflowing in recent days.
Because Target's grocery pickup idea would involve too much human contact and risk of viral contagion, the retail giant has shelved the service for the time being. Target said it won't have time to train people on the proper social distancing procedures.
The outbreak has necessitated a radical change in how people shop. People have been hoarding mass amounts of some items so they don't have to go out too often, which has led to empty store shelves across the nation, with consumers panic-buying items, such as toilet paper, to the point where it is impossible to find them in most stores.
Target's sales for items like food, beverages and household essentials, like cleaning supplies or baby-related items, have spiked accordingly. Meanwhile, other categories, like clothing and accessories, haven't seen as much sales activity as usual.
But Target faces the same coronavirus-related problems as anyone else, such as erratic employee scheduling due to issues like childcare, and in some cases, Target employees themselves have contracted the virus, TechCrunch reported. The numbers of people Target employees interact with each day makes it likely that the infections will continue in the coming weeks.
Target has been taking preventative action when it can, instructing employees to practice social distancing, wiping down carts and checkout lanes and other parts of the store frequently, and adding instructional signs to keep order.
The company is also helping employees, with $300 million put into new wages, a new paid leave program, bonus payouts and contributions to a relief fund, according to a separate announcement.