A clear indication that daily life is slowly returning to a more normal state is the elimination of special store operating hours for senior citizens, healthcare workers, and first responders. Costco in Canada and the United States announced recently that beginning April 18, 2022, warehouses will no longer be offering special shopping hours for members over 60, or for people who have a physical disability.
Older adults, and people with disabilities or who are immune-compromised, may wish to look into delivery options if they are not comfortable shopping during general hours of operation. Updated face mask policies will follow the regulations of the applicable state, province, and local jurisdictions. In regions where COVID-19 transmission is high, Costco strongly recommends that all members and guests wear face masks inside their warehouses. High-demand merchandise, such as toilet paper, may still be under a temporary item limit.
Many grocery stores and other retailers are continuing to offer special shopping hours for older adults and people with underlying health conditions. Although most major U.S. retailers allow people to shop mask-free, vulnerable populations may wish to continue wearing a mask indoors in public spaces. As policies change, it’s important to check with retailers about special shopping hours before visiting stores before regular operating hours.
For those who are computer-literate, many stores offer online ordering with curbside or in-store pickup options (BOPIS), to minimize COVID exposure.
Even if your preferred stores don’t have designated shopping hours for seniors, there are certain times and days that are less busy. According to Google Maps data, Mondays at 8 a.m. is the least busy time to grocery shop. The busiest time to shop is Saturdays between 12 and 3 p.m. But with staffing shortages and supply chain issues, early Monday morning shelves may not be as well-stocked. You can check peak store times by using Google Maps, searching the name of the store, clicking or tapping the name of the location, and looking for the “popular times” chart. The “live” time panel will tell you how busy the store is at the moment you are using the app or website.
Shopping in the morning on a weekday, but not too early, will help older adults avoid crowds and allow more time to compare prices, read labels and check for savings. Planning meals ahead of time, and sticking to a list, can also help make supermarket shopping more efficient and less costly. If you want to avoid impulse purchases, don’t go to the store on an empty stomach!