Walmart (NYSE:WMT) saw a massive spike in traffic and sales since the coronavirus pandemic began, marking a 20% surge in sales in March and a 30% increase since February. Now, it's limiting the number of people it will allow into its stores.

The retailer said no more than five customers per 1,000 square feet of floor space will be let into a store at a given time and employees will only let them in one at a time. The limits represent about 20% of a store's capacity.

Walmart store sign

Image source: Walmart.

A broad-based approach

President Trump and administration officials warn we're heading into the worst week or so of the crisis, and his head of the coronavirus response has warned consumers to stay away from supermarkets and pharmacies. Instead, they should remain at home.

That may create a new surge of panic buying before consumers hunker down, but the limitations on the number of customers allowed into a store could minimize that. 

The retail giant, with almost 4,800 stores in the U.S., has taken several actions in recent weeks to help limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and to ensure there is plenty of food and merchandise available for the largest number of consumers.

It has limited store hours to allow for increased restocking and sanitation while also creating opportunities for shoppers over 60 to shop with less risk. It is also taking the temperature of its employees as they report for work and is providing them gloves and masks. It has also considered introducing one-way aisles to help promote social distancing.

It is now also going to hire third-party cleaning crews to sanitize high-touch areas after two employees died of COVID-19 at one of its stores.

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