BJ's Wholesale Club (BJ -0.97%) is showing its appreciation of first responders and healthcare workers in a material way. The company announced Thursday that these individuals, who constitute the front line in the battle against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, can receive a four-month Inner Circle membership to the warehouse club free of charge.

But they won't necessarily require that membership to shop there. The retail club also announced that during an "appreciation hour" each Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., those people will be able to shop at BJ's outlets without any membership. This program begins this coming Sunday, April 19.

Facade of a BJ's Wholesale Club.

Image source: BJ's Wholesale Club.

In its press release announcing these moves, BJ's said that it is "proud to offer a designated shopping hour to first responders and healthcare workers as a small way to say thank you for their hard work and dedication."

The company also updated its shopping windows exclusive to its club members who are aged 60 and over. These customers have a dedicated hour from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday. This applies to all BJ's locations.

Big box retailers have seen particularly brisk business in the face of the coronavirus, as customers flock to the stores to load up on essentials. Many saw dramatic increases in sales last month around the time "stay at home" mandates came into effect.

On Friday, BJ's shares rose by 2.3%. That was only slightly lower than the gains recorded by other consumer goods stocks and the broader equities market.