Costco has been an indispensable one-stop shop for many people during the COVID pandemic, allowing families to stock up on food and other essentials in bulk as they hunkered down at home. To keep its customers safe, Costco introduced many COVID-related changes in stores, like making masks mandatory, enforcing social distancing, and even getting rid of its famous free samples. But now that vaccination rates have increased and COVID case numbers have gone down, Costco is getting rid of some of the changes it made during the pandemic, including one policy that will end at the end of July. Read on to find out what the wholesaler is getting rid of in just a few weeks.
Like many major grocery stores in the U.S., Costco created special shopping hours for those most at-risk of getting seriously sick from COVID as the virus began spreading. Since March, Costco members 60 years or older, as well as those who are immunocompromised or have disabilities, have been able to shop for an hour in the morning on weekdays without public crowds. But soon, these special hours will be gone. Costco has updated its COVID policy page to announce that it will be ending special operating hours, effective July 26.
Most Costco stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico will still have these special shopping hours from 9 to 10 a.m., Monday through Friday, until July 26. However, some stores across the nation have different senior hours. According to Costco’s update, special operating hours at the Costco in Iwilei, Hawaii, are from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., Monday through Friday.
And in California, Culver City’s Costco is the same, but the Richmond store’s senior hours are from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Meanwhile Los Angeles locations in Los Feliz, Northridge, Pacoima, Van Nuys, and Woodland Hills all have extra days of senior hours. Theirs are Sunday through Friday from 9 to 10 a.m. and Saturday starting at 8:30 a.m. These all will continue until July 26 as well.
A few major retailers are still advertising special shopping hours, even as the pandemic wanes. In June, Walmart told USA Today that it would continue to hold its weekly senior hours from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. on Tuesdays. Target also says on its website that the company still reserves the first hour of Tuesday shopping for its most vulnerable guests. According to USA Today, BJ’s Wholesale Club and Aldi are both still promoting special senior hours as well, although hours and criteria vary by location.
But some, like Costco, are also cutting back on their special operating hours. Trader Joe’s, for example, dropped its senior hours at most stores in May.
Lifting senior hours isn’t Costco’s first attempt to get back to some form of post-COVID normalcy. Nearly 170 U.S. Costco locations brought back food samples during the first week of June, and most of the remaining stores were expected to bring them back toward the end of the month, Costco CFO Richard Galanti told CNN in May.
The food courts are also now open after being shuttered for more than a year. According to Costco’s update, all stores have food courts open, but “selection varies by location” and seating may also be limited in some stores.