Walmart might have been able to maintain its reputation for low prices, but with 60 years in business, it’s had plenty of time to evolve in other ways. For instance, the iconic “Smiley” logo of the ’90s is certainly a thing of the past these days, and just last year, Subway started to pull its stores from Walmart locations. But that’s hardly the only change the retailer has endured lately. In fact, Walmart just confirmed that one recent adjustment could be here to stay. Read on to find out what the company says it still won’t let shoppers do in stores.
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Since 2020, Walmart has undergone a number of adjustments to its services in response to the changing public health and safety risk amid COVID. According to The Washington Post, the big-box retailer was an “early adopter” of face mask mandates at the beginning of the pandemic.
“We know some people have differing opinions on this topic,” Walmart COO Dacona Smith said in a July 2020 statement, in regards to the retailer implementing a mask mandate. “We also recognize the role we can play to help protect the health and well-being of the communities we serve by following the evolving guidance of health officials like the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention].”
But as of Aug. 2022, Walmart’s policies make no mention of mask requirements for shoppers and instead say stores will have signs intended to “strongly encourage” face coverings indoors.
Also in 2020, the retailer stopped accepting in-store returns or exchanges for common items like apparel and cleaning supplies, per RetailWire. But now, all stores have resumed the standard return policy for new purchases, except for “certain restrictions based on state or local ordinances that remain applicable,” according to Walmart.
It’s been quite some time since Walmart shoppers have been able to shop at any time of the day. The retailer started cutting store hours in March 2020 in response to the pandemic, and for the first five months, most locations were only open from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., according to USA Today. Then in August 2020, Walmart added 90 minutes back to its hours by delaying closing until 10 p.m., and three months later, the retailer pushed closing back again to 11 p.m. However, since June 2021, most stores have been open regularly from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
An Aug. 9 viral Facebook post got some Walmart shoppers excited about a return to 24-hour operations. According to USA Today, this recent post, as well as similar posts shared tens of thousands of times on different social media platforms, indicated that Walmart stores would be open 24 hours again, starting Aug. 14. But this is not the case, according to the company.
“There are no plans at this time to return our Walmart stores to 24-hour-a-day operations,” Walmart spokesperson Charles Crowson told USA Today in an Aug. 11 email. In its current guidelines, the company says that it is “closed overnight to enable enhanced cleaning and sanitizing in stores and clubs.”
A lack of any plans to return to 24-hour service on Walmart’s part has not stopped its shoppers from hoping. “Walmart still not being open 24 hours is the real crisis here,” one person tweeted on Aug. 10. Another post from July that has been retweeted more than 800 times said: “Ok Walmart it’s been two years, time to bring them 24 hours back.”
But the big-box retailer actually started cutting its hours in some places before the pandemic. In 2019, Walmart eliminated 24-hour service at around 100 of its stores in the U.S., NBC-affiliate WJAC in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, reported at the time. A spokesperson for the retailer told the news outlet that the cuts were made at various stores to make sure associates were working when and where customers needed them the most. Walmart’s statistics showed that most people were shopping at the retailer’s stores between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and not at night during extended 24-hour operations.
“By shifting these hours, we’re able to make sure more associates are on the floor during peak customer times, resulting in better customer service,” Justin Rushing, a Walmart spokesperson, told WJAC.