Dollar General, with 16,278 stores in 44 states, is revamping operations to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement on its website, the retailer said it is urging its stores to serve senior citizens and no one else in the first hour of each day’s operations.
Senior citizens, particularly those with pre-existing health conditions, are the group at highest risk from serious complications if infected with the virus.
Dollar General said the so-called “senior hour” is encouraged, but not required, and takes effect Tuesday.
“Dollar General is strongly encouraging that the first hour of operations each day be dedicated solely for the shopping needs of senior customers, who are one of the groups most vulnerable to the COVID-19 coronavirus,” its statement said.
“In keeping with the Company’s mission of Serving Others, Dollar General wants to provide these at-risk customers with the ability to purchase the items they need and want at the beginning of each day to avoid busier and more crowded shopping periods.”
The statement asked other shoppers to respect the needs of America’s seniors.
“Other customers are encouraged to plan their shopping trips around this window of time to allow the most susceptible customers in our communities the ability to shop during the first hour that stores are open,” the retailer said.
Dollar General followed up its statement with a tweet saying it did not have a hard-and-fast age limit in mind:
We are not qualifying a specific age. Our goal is to allow the most susceptible customers in our communities the ability to shop during the first hour that stores are open.
— Dollar General (@DollarGeneral) March 17, 2020
The retailer also announced that stores will all close earlier to emphasize cleanup.
“Additionally, all stores plan to close one hour earlier than current close times to allow employees to clean and re-stock store shelves, as well as for their health and wellbeing,” the statement said.
Seniors were already using the opportunity early Tuesday:
— Chris Hoffman (@NewsmanChris) March 17, 2020
Other stores also were trying a similar approach:
Vallarta and Dollar General will also be doing this in Fresno. https://t.co/P8Db8kdKwA
— lil jazzy vert (@jazmin_jpg) March 17, 2020
“In keeping with our mission and our ongoing commitment to serve our communities, we are dedicating the first hour of each day to seniors,” Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s CEO, said in the statement.
“We appreciate our customers’ understanding of our decision and request they visit our stores later in the morning to allow at-risk populations the ability to purchase the items they need at affordable prices.”
“During these unprecedented times, Dollar General is diligently working to meet the ongoing needs of our customers and communities,” he added.
“We are proud to live our mission and provide customers with everyday low prices on the household essentials that are used and replenished most often.”
Many specialty retailers have closed stores or adjusted hours in response to the virus, heeding the warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that clusters of shoppers could represent a possible way of transmitting the virus.
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