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Walmart Adds Seniors, First Responders to Online Shopping Preference List

By Rich Duprey – Apr 14, 2020 at 4:19PM

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The retailer wants to give those most at risk of COVID-19 special hours to shop.

Walmart (WMT -0.63%) has continuously fine-tuned its shopping procedures during the coronavirus pandemic, including limiting store hours, opening the store an hour early to those 60 and over, and restricting the number of people allowed in the store at any one time.

Now the retailer is setting aside special pick-up hours for those most at risk of contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, who shop its online store.

Woman shopping online on a tablet

Image source: Getty Images.

Influx of new customers requires new rules

According to a new update to its COVID-19 policies, Walmart says the hour between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. will be reserved for customers over the age of 60 and those with disabilities and anyone designated high-risk by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. First responders are also included.

Tom Ward, Walmart's senior vice president of customer product said, "These are extraordinary times, and we are constantly looking for ways we can help deliver that same peace of mind to all our customers, particularly those who are most at-risk."

When customers go to Walmart's online grocery sites, they will be greeted with a new prompt that will identify the criteria for qualifying as being "at risk," allowing them to opt-in for the special pick-up designation.

Grocery pickup is contact-free, only requiring customers to open their trunk to allow Walmart associates to load their groceries. There's no need to sign for the order, either.

The retailer has seen a massive surge in online shopping since the pandemic began. Data from 1010data shows site traffic has jumped 21% since February and is double what it was a year ago. Amazon.com (AMZN -3.55%) has also seen an increase, but has resorted to putting new online grocery customers on a waiting list.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and recommends the following options: short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon and long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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