Target to reserve shopping time for seniors, cut store hours in response to COVID-19

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A Target sign outside a store is seen in a file photo. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A Target sign outside a store is seen in a file photo. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Amid a wave of panic buying spurred by the spread of coronavirus, Target announced Tuesday that it will reserve an hour of shopping for seniors and those with underlying health conditions while also reducing operations at stores across the U.S.

Target will open an hour early every Wednesday morning to ensure that “vulnerable” shoppers can stock up on necessities like food and medicine before the general public is allowed inside, the company said in a news release.

Also beginning Wednesday, all Targets will shut down daily by 9 p.m., according to the release. The earlier closure will give employees extra time to clean and restock shelves, which have been emptying at dizzying rates as of late.

Stores will continue to open at their normal times. (Hours are posted at Target.com)

The announcement comes as Americans — but especially those over 65 and anyone with underlying medical conditions — are being urged to stay indoors and away from crowds to avoid contracting COVID-19.

“Families are counting on Target for critical supplies during this challenging time, and we’ll continue to do all that we can to keep our stores open,” Target Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said in the release.

In addition to those two measures, the company will continue to set purchase limits on certain items, according to Cornell.

Target also asks that customers “purchase only what they need so there’s enough supply to accommodate this increased demand.”

A number of retailers have been taking extreme measures as the number of coronavirus cases — along with fatalities — continues to increase in the U.S. and around the world.

Many are shutting down stores as local, state and federal officials urge Americans to socially distance themselves from one another to help mitigate the virus’ spread. Other retailers have reduced hours, including Walmart and a number of supermarket chains.

Target joins other stores — such as Dollar General and grocery stores like Northgate Market — that have also implemented special hours for higher-risk populations to make it easier for them to shop.

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted jittery shoppers to panic buy certain items like hand sanitizer, toilet paper, bottled water, cleaning supplies and canned goods — even as authorities tell them it’s not necessary.

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