Coronavirus

US Retailers, Grocers Reduce Hours As SMBs Fight To Survive Quarantine

Retail in the U.S. is seeing shifts amid the coronavirus

The coronavirus’ quick spread across the U.S. in the past week has prompted shoppers to begin buying up everything they think they'll need as over-worked retailers try to keep up.

The shopping spree, inspired by plans to hole up at home to shield from the virus, wiped stores clean of everything from rice to disinfectants and everything in between.

The mass-purchases of some items, like toilet paper and paper towels, has led some retailers to impose limits on purchases so as to save some for everyone else.

As the shopping frenzy heats up and the virus wreaks havoc on the normal facets of life in the U.S., retailers have had to make adjustments. Publix and Kroger are among the chains that have had to adjust hours in light of the pandemic, along with others such as H-E-B and Walmart.

Officials said the reduced hours will give their employees time to clean stores, restock shelves and ensure the health of everyone involved.

Kroger said two employees have tested positive for the virus, one in Colorado at a King Scoopers store, the other at a Washington state-based Fred Meyers store.

Publix, which operates 1,200 stores in the southern region of the country, said it will begin closing stores at 8 p.m., or two hours early, to give employees time to ensure cleanliness and safety. Pharmacies will also begin closing at 8 p.m. until further notice.

At Walmart, store hours will be reduced, with 24-hour locations now to operate between the hours of 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. as of Sunday, March 15.

The new hours will affect around 2,200 of the retailer’s 4,700 Walmart and Neighborhood Market stores across the country. Walmart has given its store managers the individual purview to limit purchases for some items.

Amid all of the shopping-related chaos, the White House has urged shoppers not to hoard items, reassuring the public that supply chains are “strong.” Experts have said that the recovery from the virus at the retail level will require a more careful approach that takes individual needs into account.

Apple will be closing all of its retail stores except for those in Greater China until March 27, according to a letter from CEO Tim Cook posted on Sunday, March 15.

Cook writes that the online stores will still be open, and those interested can download the company’s mobile app.

Cook states that the offices will be moving to “flexible work arrangements” around the world, letting people work from home when possible, and that any hourly employees would continue to be paid as normal even while the stores were closed.

Nike is another company taking decisive action and closing stores. The footwear retailer said it would close its stores in the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand through March 27, with employees still being paid as normal throughout that time.

Nike has 384 retail stores in the U.S. and more than 750 worldwide.

Small businesses in Seattle, Washington are facing the test of the social distancing recommended worldwide in an attempt to stave off the virus spread.

Washington is the epicenter of the disease crisis in the U.S., and is also being looked at as a way to gauge how local businesses can thrive in the environment necessary for combating the spread.

Restaurant bookings are down in substantial numbers, and business owners have had to find innovative ways of adapting, such as enacting drive-in deliveries with contactless payments. Others have upped online deliveries.

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NEW PYMNTS DATA: HOW WE SHOP – SEPTEMBER 2020 

The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

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