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Grocery stores across U.S. reserve shopping hours for senior citizens during coronavirus outbreak

Grocery stores reserve shopping hours for seniors

Older Americans, who are at a higher risk of getting sick during the coronavirus pandemic have been advised by the CDC to both stock up on supplies and consider taking steps to avoid crowds. At some grocery stores, that may seem like an impossible combination as scores of people flock to supermarkets to buy emergency food and supplies.

Some supermarket chains are making sure older and at-risk Americans can both get the food they need and avoid crowds by reserving special hours for this group.

Food Town, a grocery store chain with about 30 locations in Texas, announced it would be shortening its hours, but also making special accommodations for senior citizens.

"To help support the shopping needs of the elderly in our community, effective March 17, 2020, we will open our doors from 7–8 a.m. to allow those ages 65 and older to shop in a less crowded environment," the company announced on its website.

Another Texas-based chain, H.E.B., is using another method to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.  The company announced it "will provide a $3M gift to support Texas non-profits helping seniors, children and low-income families as we work together to slow the spread."

A larger regional chain, Stop & Shop, started to follow the "senior hour" trend. Starting Thursday, March 19, the northeastern chain will open earlier in order to service only customers who are age 60 and over from 6-7:30 a.m., the company announced on its website.

National brand Dollar General also announced this week its stores would dedicate their first hour of operations to at-risk customers. 

By Wednesday, two other giant store chains announced amended hours for the elderly. Whole Foods, which is owned by Amazon, said it would open its stores an hour earlier in the U.S. and Canada so people 60 or older can shop. It will do the same for customers 70 or older in the U.K.

Target announced its stores would be closing earlier to allow time for more cleaning, but they will also be dedicating a special shopping hour on Wednesday mornings to older customers.

Some local chains or individual store locations have also amended their hours to accommodate senior shoppers. At least one Trader Joe's in Monrovia, California designated 9-9:30 a.m. for customers over 65, according to CBS Los Angeles. Local California chain Northgate Market designated 7:30-8 a.m. for seniors.

Many other grocery store chains like Kroger and Publix announced amended hours in order to clean their stores more frequently. People who are in the "at risk" category can check with local retailers about special hours that will be less busy and therefore, less risky to shop.

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