The Rules for Shopping at Walmart, Target and More During COVID-19

From social distancing to one-way aisles, here's what stores are doing to keep people safe.

To say the novel coronavirus outbreak has impacted our shopping habits would be a vast understatement. Gone are the days of strolling down the aisles at Trader Joe’s or swinging by Target to inevitably end up buying more than we need. Now, we go in with a list and a plan, if we don’t get grocery delivery. (But if you’d like to stick to that option, here’s the cheapest way to order groceries online.)

It seems the executives behind these stores are also worried about the safety of their customers and employees. No one wants shoppers lingering longer than they have to, and many places have taken extra measures to ensure everyone’s safety while they’re picking up the essentials.

Here are the changes you can expect in the coming weeks:


Walmart is now limiting the number of people in stores at any given time. Starting on Saturday, the stores will allow no more than five people for every 1,000 square feet of the store (the press release says this is 20 percent of the store’s capacity). Walmart workers will keep track of how many people are inside and maintain a social distancing-friendly line by the entrance, while also allowing shoppers in one at a time

Once you’re in, you might notice another big change: Some stores are adding one-way aisles, enforced by employees and signs. And, when you finish checking out, you’ll have to leave through a different door than the one you came in, so everyone’s not trying to move through the same doors.

For guidance on what to buy, check our expert’s advice on how to stock a pantry.


Target is taking measures to keep track of and limit the number of people in the store, as well. If too many people try to get in, stores will “meter” the crowd, meaning people will have to line up outside to wait their turn. Target employees will “help guests into a designated waiting area outside with social distancing markers,” while others will guide guests inside the store to keep things moving.

In other words, don’t expect to get your 10,000 steps in at Target anytime soon. Instead, buy items online and pick them up in the store or have them delivered.

Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s changes aren’t as extensive as Walmart, but they’re certainly worth noting. First, all stores are now closing at 7 p.m., while some are closed indefinitely. To see which stores are open near you, use the store locator. Some stores are limiting the number of people inside, too.

You won’t be able to sample anything while you shop—but at a time like this, why would you want to? And, like many other stores, Trader Joe’s is dedicating the first hour of shopping time for those who are 60+ or older as well as those with disabilities. Next, check out how to avoid becoming a victim of the coronavirus shopping frenzy.

Taste of Home
Originally Published on Taste of Home