Omicron Outbreaks Lead Major Retailers to Adjust Hours

Major retailers, such as Macy’s and Walmart, have been forced to make adjustments to store hours as omicron variant cases of COVID-19 have skyrocketed and staff shortages prevail.

Macy’s will reduce hours Monday-Thursday by two hours for the rest of January. Instead of opening at 10 a.m., stores will open at 11 a.m., and stores will close at 8 p.m. rather than 9 p.m. Weekend hours, Friday through Sunday, will remain the same.

“The health and safety of our customers and colleagues remain our top priority,” a Macy’s spokesperson told Retail Leader. “Due to the rise of COVID-19 cases, we will temporarily revise store hours for the remainder of January at all Macy’s stores.”

Macy’s, which is headquartered in New York and operates more than 500 retail stores under the Macy’s name, also noted it is monitoring guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The retailer is not the only one cutting hours this month. New York, in particular, has been ravaged by the omicron variant over the past several weeks. The CDC estimates roughly 90% of infections in the New York area are caused by Omicron, which is thought to spread faster and more easily than other variants, but may cause less severe illness. 

Retail industry experts aren’t anticipating omicron will lead to shutdowns. However, the variant is likely to contribute to inflation and slowdowns across the economy.

Instead of reducing hours across the company, Walmart temporarily closed 60 stores for two days within COVID-19 hotspots during December for enhanced cleaning and sanitization. The mega-retailer also recently closed another store this week in south Philadelphia for the same reason. Walmart’s strategy of closing stores for cleaning aims to get ahead of outbreaks in hotspots where cases are high and has been part of the retailer’s approach since the start of the pandemic.

Nike has taken a similar approach as Macy’s, cutting hours at its Upper East Side location in New York, with the store open from noon to 5 p.m. this week, according to CNBC. Similarly, Athleta reduced hours of its Upper East Side New York retail location temporarily.