Although stores have not yet been ordered to close during the coronavirus crisis, most major retailers in the United States are taking matters into their own hands. Measures vary from limiting opening hours to general closures.
Retailers are taking initiative
Fashion chain Gap has decided to temporarily close all of its stores across North America, as well as those of its other chains - Old Navy and Banana Republic. Similar measures are being taken by international brands such as Apple, Ralph Lauren and H&M.
As gatherings of large groups of people have already been banned by the US government, department store chains such as Macy's and Nordstrom have also closed their stores. At Starbucks, some outlets are completely shut, while others still allow take-away sales.
Closed for cleaning
However, some department stores and superstores are merely adapting their opening hours. One of the objectives of these limited opening hours is to carefully clean and disinfect the stores on a daily basis.
Since Wednesday, Target stores close by 9PM at the latest, while J.C. Penney and Kohl's are reducing their opening hours as well. Curfews have also been introduced in some states, limiting late openings anyway.
"Seniors-only" hour at the supermarket
In supermarkets, the idea of reserving a period in the morning for the elderly, pregnant women and people in high-risk groups is rapidly gaining ground. Safeway, Whole Foods and Target, among others, have already adopted the system.
President Trump this week announced support programmes worth one trillion dollars to combat the coronavirus outbreak, but experts believe the outbreak is still in its infancy in the United States, where at least 150 people have already died from the disease.