“Senior hours” at stores aim to protect elderly shoppers [Updated]

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Update, March 23, 2020: Now it’s not just grocery stores instituting special “senior hours” to assist elderly shoppers—it’s pharmacies, too. Walgreens has announced in a press release that it will dedicate certain hours of the day to its senior customers. As noted on its COVID-19 FAQ page:

Starting Tuesday, March 24 and every Tuesday for the near future, Walgreens stores will open at 8 a.m., with the full hour from 8 a.m. until 9 a.m. dedicated to senior citizens. This hour is also available to their caregivers and immediate families may also visit the store during this time. Additionally, we will offer our senior day discount all day on Tuesdays during this time. Customers age 55 and older will receive 30 percent off regularly priced Walgreens brands and 20 percent off regularly priced national brands. Restrictions may apply.

Walgreens pharmacists are also in the process of contacting senior patients to check whether they’re in need of prescription refills or medical supplies. And the chain’s new drive-thru shopping option allows any customer to purchase “select health, cleaning, and grocery items” for pickup at the pharmacy drive-thru window.

Original post, March 17, 2020: Though many countries worldwide are encouraging self-quarantine in response to COVID-19, social distancing and similar restrictions are easier for some populations than others. Seniors, for example, are among those most susceptible to the novel coronavirus and should limit their time out in public, yet many of them don’t always have a support system nearby who can help them get the groceries and supplies they need.


That’s why many grocery chains are instituting “senior hours” during which the elderly can shop an hour before the store opens to the public. This gives them time to find the items they need that are currently in high demand among shoppers, and it keeps them at a safe distance from younger customers who might be carrying the disease.

According to CNN, several Australian grocery chains have been instituting these senior hours, and now Chef José Andres is urging the U.S. to follow suit. Some local spots are taking up the torch, such as shops in Lorain, Ohio, where the mayor announced special arrangements to accommodate senior shoppers as early as 6 a.m. Grocery stores across the country have been trying to design precautions in a number of ways; many are reducing their hours to spend more time cleaning and restocking stores.