Macy's Won't Let Shoppers Do This for the Rest of January Because of COVID
Rising case numbers have major retailers adding new restrictions for shoppers.
From temporary store closures to mask mandates, retailers across the U.S. had to make major changes and put new precautions into place when the COVID pandemic first began in 2020. And while companies had been able to pull back these restrictions as vaccines brought numbers down, a new variant has sent cases skyrocketing once more, with the U.S. reporting more than 1 million new COVID cases on Jan. 3. Now, some retailers are adding new restrictions as a result of the Omicron variant. For its part, Macy's just announced a new COVID policy that will be implemented in stores throughout the month of January. Read on to find out what you are no longer allowed to do at these stores.
Macy's is limiting store hours for shoppers.
Macy's has decided to shorten store hours in January, CNBC reported on Jan. 4. From Monday to Thursday, customers will only be able to shop in nationwide stores from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the rest of the month. Some locations were previously open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. before this change. Macy's will not cut store hours Friday through Sunday, however, and in-store staff will continue to work their usual hours, a company spokeswoman told CNBC.
The retailer said an increase in COVID cases helped facilitate this decision.
According to CNBC, Macy's said it was cutting store hours as a response to the spike in U.S. COVID cases brought on by the Omicron variant. "We will continue to monitor the situation and follow the CDC and jurisdictional guidelines as well as keep enhanced safety and wellness procedures in place," the spokeswoman said in a statement.
Retailers are also struggling with staffing shortages as cases rise, but CNBC said Macy's did not comment on whether or not it was specifically seeing more of its employees test positive for COVID. Craig Rowley, a senior client partner at consulting firm Korn Ferry and head of the firm's retail practice, told CNBC that the recent wave of COVID cases is exacerbating an already-existing labor shortage for the retail sector as more workers are having to call out sick.
But Rowley said cutting hours during the week might be a temporary solution that won't impact retailers' overall sales. "Most retail sales [in stores] occur toward the weekend," he explained.
Macy's might also be considering a vaccine mandate for employees.
Macy's began requesting the vaccination statuses of employees on Jan. 4, according to The New York Times. In an employee memo obtained by the news outlet, the retailer told U.S. workers that they had to upload their vaccination statuses to a third-party platform by Jan 16, "regardless of whether [they] work in a store, a supply chain facility, an office, or are remote/hybrid."
This is a sign that Macy's is potentially considering a vaccine mandate, as the memo told unvaccinated employees that the company would "review [their] submission and [they] may be contacted by someone from the Colleague Advisory team to discuss next steps." The retailer said it might also require proof of negative tests to be uploaded to the same system starting Feb. 16, per The New York Times.
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Macy's is not the only retailer that has been affected by rising COVID cases.
While Macy's is one of the first company to cut its general store hours, it's hardly the only retailer making changes thanks to rising COVID cases. Walmart had to temporarily close nearly 60 stores for multiple days throughout the month of December in order to sanitize them after alleged Omicron outbreaks, Reuters reported. And CVS also temporarily closed just under 10 locations for "enhanced cleaning" during this time period, according to the news outlet.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not specifically recommend shutting down stores when employees test positive for COVID, per Reuters. But it does recommend that retailers "close off areas used by the person who is sick and do not use those areas until after cleaning and disinfecting."