Shoplifting syndicates are costing retailers billions every year. Industry insiders are pointing to the ease of online reselling for helping crime rings thrive.

a power drill on top of a yellow background with a large padlock and alarm symbols
Home Depot’s special power tools are just the latest anti-theft measure for a brick-and-mortar retailer.

  • Retailers are voicing concerns that e-commerce has prompted a spike in professional shoplifters boosting high-value items to sell online.
  • Brick-and-mortar advocates are arguing that online sellers need to take more action to stop theft.
  • But critics say some anti-theft measures could hurt small online sellers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Among well-lit rows of drills, lawn care equipment, and power washers, all still carefully packaged, a small American flag hangs over a shelf of Milwaukee Tools, a Home Depot-exclusive brand.

Without context, it looks like it could have been any Home Depot warehouse. But this video footage, viewed by Insider, doesn’t depict a fulfillment center, or even the stock room of a Home Depot store. It captures a secret California warehouse stocked with goods stolen from the home improvement giant. It was shot by one of Home Depot’s own organized retail crime investigators in 2020, as police served a search warrant on the storage facility. All in all, the warehouse contained millions of dollars in stolen products.

That’s just one snapshot of a crime wave that’s been building for years. Back in 2011, the FBI posited that “organized retail crime” was a $30 billion industry. And industry operators say the problem has only grown since then. A 2020 survey from the National Retail Federation found that organized retail theft has seen a nearly 60% increase from 2015, now averaging $719,548 for every $1 billion in sales.

Retailers are now sounding the alarm on spiking theft statistics and the role of e-commerce platforms as “fences.” Traditionally, fences have taken the form of pawn shops or flea markets, but the rise of online shopping has turned this on its head. Brick-and-mortar retailers complaining that thieves are increasingly hawking pilfered products online, but e-commerce platforms argue that regulating sites will just stifle competition.

home depot organized retail crime
Police seize items, including some stolen from a Home Depot.

Retail companies have implemented a number of initiatives to combat these targeted thefts. Recently, Home Depot released power tools that won’t work unless they’re properly scanned and activated at the register via Bluetooth technology. The retailer is also looking to continue to introduce technology to combat theft, rather than locking up products. Stores have experimented with lockable cart wheels that freeze up if a person shoves a cartload of goods outside without paying. Others resort to controversial facial recognition tools, often in addition to other security measures, to assist in identifying thieves. Critics say that, without regulation, this technology could end up violating human rights.

Jason Brewer, the spokesperson for the Buy Safe America Coalition, a lobby group for the retail industry, spoke with Insider about the efficient, intricate shadow businesses of professional shoplifters.

“This is a professional criminal,” Brewer said. “They’re not looking to steal food for dinner, or something they need because they can’t afford it. They are stealing specific items that they know they can resell online.”

Brewer said that organized retail crime rings vary in terms of their size, origin, and specialty. He said that some could be connected to larger organized crime outfits. For those major players, organized retail crime is yet another business in a portfolio that may also include narcotics sales, human trafficking, and gunrunning. Smaller rings could just be a group led by a figure that can convince desperate people – sometimes impoverished, unhoused, and drug-dependent persons – to steal in exchange for a small cut of money. Shoplifting ring “CEOs” will pass down a product list to low-level members, who then must go out and steal those items in order to get paid.

“The leaders don’t really care what happens to the runners,” Scott Glenn, Home Depot’s vice president of asset protection, told Insider. “They’re just paying them a hundred bucks a day, but the runners will bring back thousands of dollars worth of product that then gets resold for profit.”

But despite their ubiquity, Glenn said it is important not to underestimate shoplifting groups. He said that they can be helmed by “good administrators” and function somewhat akin to shadow businesses. Glenn said that in some cases, these professional shoplifters will steal “right up to that felony threshold” without ever crossing the line.

Most states have a felony theft threshold, meaning that a person who steals money or property valued over a certain amount can be charged with felony, rather than misdemeanor, theft. The NRF notes that these syndicates often look for “a mix of valuable high-end products and cheap but easier to fence everyday necessities.”

“They know that nothing’s going to happen if it doesn’t pass that certain level,” Glenn said. “They’ll steal up to that amount and they’ll go to the next door and they’ll steal up to that amount.”

‘It really hits retailers from multiple directions’

Brewer and Glenn said the proliferation of e-commerce has also led to a boom in criminals fencing stolen goods online. Glenn said that not all online sales platforms “have the same level of control and vetting” when it comes to merchants, while Brewer said that no online platform is currently doing enough to combat crime.

And all this means that retailers feel they are battling exponential growth in organized theft that everyday shoppers are likely not aware of. In the 2020 NRF survey, 59% of respondents said they’d spotted stolen merchandise from their company being sold on websites – that’s up 9% from 2018.

Brewer also said that online platforms need to do away with anonymity for sellers in order to combat organized retail crime. The Buy Safe Coalition is backing the INFORM Consumers Act, a bill that would force online platforms to authenticate “high-volume third-party sellers.”

Home Depot organized retail crime
Police seize items, including some stolen from a Home Depot.

“If the marketplaces have to start verifying the people selling on their platform and providing that information to the public, it’s going to be a lot harder for people to sell stolen goods,” Brewer said.

Online platforms have pushed back against the idea that they’re allowing thieves to run rampant on their sites. eBay has touted its efforts to remove suspicious listings, as well as its initiatives to protect copyright and trademark owners, community members dealing with unsafe goods, and third-party brands.

“eBay is fully committed to providing a safe and secure online shopping experience to millions of people globally and we have zero tolerance for criminal activity on our platform,” an eBay spokesperson told Insider. “We believe collaboration and cooperation between law enforcement, retailers and marketplaces is the best way to combat fraud and organized retail crime.”

An Amazon spokesperson told Insider that the company in 2020 invested $700 million and a workforce of 10,000 to “prevent fraud and abuse in our store.”

“Amazon does not allow third-party sellers to list stolen goods in our store, and we work closely with law enforcement, retailers, and brands to stop bad actors and hold them accountable, including withholding funds, terminating accounts, and making law enforcement referrals,” an Amazon spokesperson told Insider.

Home Depot organized retail crime
Police seize items, including some stolen from a Home Depot.

The Makers and Merchants Coalition, a trade group that represents third-party online sellers, has come out against the INFORM Act. It argues that there “is no need to require private citizens to disclose their personal information to the public to sell a small number of products online.”

“The true mission of the INFORM Act is to eliminate big-box retail’s competition by hurting small sellers,” spokesperson Katie Wright said in a statement sent to Insider. “The Act does nothing to stop stolen goods at their main source, brick and mortar retail stores, but does threaten to compromise the safety and personal information of small online sellers who use larger marketplaces to sell their products.”

Wright said that online marketplaces already “collect personal information from sellers as one of the many measures taken to prevent the sale of millions of stolen and counterfeit products every year.”

But Glenn and Brewer stressed the threat that organized retail crime posed. Both said that, when desperate, professional shoplifters could pose a physical threat to shoppers and retail employees. Glenn said if left unchecked, mass theft could push higher prices onto consumers, while Brewer said that smaller stores could shutter.

“Not only is the retailer having the merchandise stolen from them, but then somebody is competing with them online by selling the same product for half the price because it’s stolen,” he said. “So it really hits retailers from multiple directions.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Paint is a gateway drug: New millennial homeowners have gotten their feet wet with DIY and are turning to pros for bigger projects

paint painting paint brush home improvement wall house
“We know our limitations now that we’ve actually started doing projects,” one homeowner told Insider.

  • The home improvement boom is far from finished, but it’s changing.
  • Rather than embarking on DIY adventures, homeowners are increasingly tapping pros for big projects.
  • Experts say that with a tight housing market the spending spree is unlikely to end anytime soon.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As many Millennials are wont to do when embarking on a project for the first time, Alex Strunce and Hayley Swanson turn to YouTube.

But when it comes to renovations on the mid-century ranch house the couple bought this summer in Madison, Wisconsin, things are not always as easy as they seem on the internet.

“It’s like a three-minute video and I’m sitting there like 45 minutes later, and I’m like, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing,'” Strunce said.

Strunce and Swanson told Insider they consider themselves extremely capable DIYers, even as their foray into homeownership tests those limits.

“Our first gamble was with the kitchen cabinets,” Swanson said. “Even just taking off the doors takes an hour, and then you get to sanding and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, this is actually physical work!'”

A month after they started working on the cabinets, the doors are still not hung, and the couple still has a whole spreadsheet of other projects waiting in the queue.

“Now we’re getting a little bit more smart with understanding where we want to put our time,” Swanson said.

That means a little less DIY and a little more PRO.

‘An investment and not an expense’

Home improvement retailers are seeing the same thing happen across the US, as homeowners pull back spending on their own projects and increasingly hire contractors to do it for them.

“Take a category like paint,” Todd Decker, Home Depot’s president and COO, said on an earnings call this month. “Painting is one of the initial home improvement projects that a customer engages in and starts to build confidence in home improvement.”

He continued: “Millennials are engaged in housing. They’re engaging in home improvement. They’ve done that first project, which is painting and some gardening work generally. We’re just thrilled that they’re engaged in the category and moving on to bigger projects.”

It turns out that bucket of paint last year was a gateway drug to harder stuff, like refinishing the floor or updating the backsplash, which is best done by a pro.

Lowe’s quarterly financials told the same story: a falloff in the DIY segment was more than offset by an increase in big-ticket purchases and pro-sales.

“It will take years for the supply of homes to meet the projected demand,” CEO Marvin Ellison told investors. “As long as their home is increasing in value, [homeowners] see upgrades and enhancements to their home as an investment and not an expense.”

Such a robust housing market will continue to benefit Home Depot and Lowe’s, Barclays analyst Karen Short told Insider.

Because of the low availability of houses and the aging housing stock, more people are embarking on home improvement projects to spruce up the less-than-ideal houses they’ve bought, an environment in which the two home improvement giants thrive, she said.

“I don’t think the strength is ending any time soon,” she said. “That could change, but I don’t anticipate that could happen because there’s such a significant shortage of housing stock in general.”

That shortage means the home improvement boom could endure into 2022, even as the effects of the pandemic lessen. People who can’t, or choose not to, move right now may view improvements as an investment in their homes’ values.

“Owners lack the opportunity to move to a different house. There’s also been a strong appreciation of the value of existing homes,” Paul Emrath, vice president for survey and housing policy research at the National Association of Home Builders, told Insider. “So that provides a motivation for homeowners to remodel as an investment. And it also provides a source of equity that they can tap into.”

‘We know our limitations now’

The pandemic has also shown that millennials are willing to follow the same patterns as baby boomers by buying homes and renovating their homes themselves to match personal tastes and needs, Barclays’ Short, said.

“There’s more sustainability to DIY than people realize,” she said. “But some things in housing are not DIY and you have to have a pro involved. It’s not that one dies off – I think it ebbs and flows.”

That’s especially true for those without specialized skills. Courtney Lee, a project success guide at The Home Improvement Group in Northwest Indiana, said her business is “slammed” with remodeling projects for kitchens, bathrooms, decks, and home offices. She said they’ve also encountered plenty of homeowners unhappy with the progress they’ve made on Youtube-inspired DIY projects.

“We certainly see people that start projects and then they want us to come in and fix what they’ve started,” she told Insider. “They need a little help cleaning up.”

The backlog of remodeling projects for the average home remodeler has risen since the first quarter of 2021 and has skyrocketed by 80% since the first quarter of 2020, according to a survey by the National Association of Homebuilders.

And a labor shortage in construction isn’t helping the bottleneck.

“I’ll get 40 resumes and I can’t get one person to call me back,” Lee said, adding that high demand has meant certain supplies and appliances can take months to come in, including bathtubs, cabinets, and shower parts.

Back in Wisconsin, Strunce and Swanson have had their plans similarly stymied by shortages. Some specialty hinges are on backorder, and an electrician just pushed his earliest availability back to October.

“We know our limitations now that we’ve actually started doing projects,” Swanson said. “We know what we want to get a contractor for, but we’re not prioritizing that yet.”

Are you a homeowner who has given up on DIY projects? Insider wants to hear from you. Email dreuter@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Home Depot told an employee to remove a BLM logo or quit, according to a labor board complaint

A bright orange sign for Home Depot stands tall against a blue sky with clouds.
The National Labor Relations Board has accused a Home Depot store of forcing an employee to quit after he wore a Black Lives Matter logo.

  • Home Depot suspended a worker who refused to remove a Black Lives Matter logo, a labor agency said.
  • The NLRB said the worker, who eventually quit, spoke to colleagues about racial discrimination.
  • Home Depot said the complaint “misrepresents the relevant facts.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Minneapolis Home Depot employee who wore a Black Lives Matter logo on his apron and spoke to other workers about racial discrimination was suspended after he refused to remove the logo, according to a labor board complaint.

The Minneapolis branch of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said in the complaint that the worker started wearing the “BLM” lettering on his apron in August 2020. Sometime this year, the company told the employee to either remove the logo or leave the store, the complaint said. This led to him being suspended, it said.

The Home Depot store then gave the worker an ultimatum: stop wearing the logo or quit, the complaint said. In a statement on August 18, The NLRB accused the hardware giant of constructive discharge because the employee eventually left his job. Home Depot “unlawfully enforced its otherwise lawful dress code” and “threatened employees not to engage in activity regarding racial harassment,” it said.

The unnamed worker had “various conversations with coworkers, supervisors, and managers about subjects such as ongoing discrimination and harassment” at the store in Minneapolis, the complaint said, although it did not provide further details.

Home Depot told Insider that the complaint “misrepresents the relevant facts.”

“The Home Depot does not tolerate workplace harassment of any kind and takes all reports of discrimination or harassment seriously, as we did in this case,” a spokeswoman said.

“We disagree with the characterization of this situation and look forward to sharing the facts during the NLRB’s process,” she said.

Read more: America should make racial justice part of our official foreign policy and take Black Lives Matter global

While the hardware store’s dress code prohibits displays of “causes or political messages unrelated to workplace matters,” the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) allows workers to bring attention to discrimination they may be facing in the workplace, the NLRB said.

“Issues of racial harassment directly impact the working conditions of employees,” Jennifer Hadsall, NLRB’s regional director in Minneapolis, said in a statement.

“The NLRA protects employees’ rights to raise these issues with the goal of improving their working conditions,” she said.

Many companies were vocal in their support of the Black Lives Matter movement after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Craig Menear, Home Depot’s CEO, said in a statement at the time that “we must stand with all who are committed to change that will bring us closer to realizing an end to discrimination and hatred.”

The complaint said that a hearing before an NLRB administrative law judge would happen in October, unless Home Depot and the worker reach a settlement before that.

The NLRB did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Home Depot signals a drop in home improvement projects as fewer customers visit its stores

home depot shelves empty
  • Home Depot saw its comparative sales drop considerably from 25% last year.
  • The company still saw a boost for its average ticket size and net earnings.
  • Home Depot CFO Richard McPhail said the company is up against “challenging compares.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Home Depot wobbled in its latest earnings results, possibly signalling the end of the longstanding home improvement boom.

The home improvement giant comparative sales rose 3.4% in the US. Overall comparative sales grew by 4.5%. Neat earnings increased $4.8 billion, compared with $4.3 billion in 2020. But the company was always going to be up against stiff competition: Last year, comparative sales jumped a startling 25%. Home Depot had previously been posting stunning sales results, as bored consumers tackled home improvement projects during the pandemic.

Overall, fewer customers visited Home Depots this quarter, with the company experiencing a 5.8% drop in transactions compared with last year. That being said, the shoppers that stuck around spent more, with the average ticket size going from $74.12 to $82.48.

The company’s shares fell 4% before the market opened on Tuesday as a result of the earnings.

“We’re very pleased with the strong performance we saw in the second quarter, particularly as we lapped the unprecedented growth we saw this time last year,” Home Depot’s Chief Financial Officer Richard McPhail told analysts. “And while these challenging compares continue for the back half of the year, we are encouraged by what we are seeing.”

CEO Craig Menear also touted the company’s growing pro business, which has outperformed Home Depot’s do-it-yourself performance for two consecutive quarters now.

“What we did see is that consumers are taking on larger projects, and have the tendency to hire a pro to do them,” he said. “As a result, we’ve seen our pro business strengthen.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Walmart, Target, and Best Buy are offering rival sales during Amazon Prime Day. Here’s all the info, plus what deals we love so far.

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Walmart+ Delivery Unlimited
  • Amazon Prime Day, which will fall on June 21 and June 22, has become another Black Friday.
  • As a result of Prime Day’s success, many retailers offer their own competing sales.
  • Below, you can check out sales from competing retailers, including Best Buy, Target, and Walmart.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Amazon Prime Day celebrates its seventh year in 2021. What started as a one-day shopping event in July 2015 is now a multi-day affair that sees a wide range of stores hosting competing sales.

When Amazon Prime Day debuted in 2015, Walmart – Amazon’s largest competitor – held its own major sales event the same week. Since then, several other retailers joined what’s developed into the largest shopping event of the year outside of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. With over 150 million US shoppers with Prime memberships spending their money at Amazon over the course of a few days, it’s no surprise its biggest competitors wanted in on the frenzy.

This year, major retailers are once again lining up to compete with Amazon Prime Day deals. Target, Walmart, Kohl’s, and Best Buy were the first to announce their competing sales but we expect more details to be announced as we get closer to the start of Amazon Prime Day.

To help get you acquainted with what to expect, we’ve answered a few frequently asked questions regarding these competing Amazon Prime Day sales below, as well as a few of the best early deals we’ve seen so far.

Here’s a list of what to expect from competing Amazon Prime Day 2021 sales:

Walmart

Walmart+ Delivery Unlimited 2

Walmart’s ‘Deals for Days’ event will run from June 20 to 23 — a day before and lasting a day longer than Amazon Prime Day. 

So far, Walmart Plus members don’t get any exclusive perks during ‘Deals for Days.’ For those unfamiliar, Walmart Plus is the retail giant’s answer to a Prime membership. It offers unlimited same-day delivery for 160,000 items and costs $98 a year, about $20 less than one year of Amazon Prime. 

What will be on sale?

For 2021, we’ll likely see steep discounts on everything from entertainment and tech to kitchen appliances and video games during the ‘Deals for Days’ event. Here are some we know of ahead of time: 

AirPods Pro (medium)
Target

target store

The ‘Target Deal Days’ event lands on June 20 and ends on June 22. That’s a day before Amazon Prime Day and a day shorter than Walmart’s ‘Deals for Days’ event.

What will be on sale?

Target’s previous event included $50 off the iRobot Roomba 695, $150 off the Dyson V8 Motorhead, and $100 off a Samsung 50-inch The Frame 4K Smart TV. 

This year, look for deep discounts on tech, smart home, gaming, and many more product categories.

Maker (medium, Preferred: Target)Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe Upright Vacuum (medium)
Best Buy

best buy

Best Buy’s ‘Bigger Deal Savings Event’ starts well before the competition — it’ll take place until June 22. This is unprecedented: Best Buy’s previous Prime Day sales started and ended with Amazon’s sale. 

Best Buy’s competing Prime Day discounts are open to all shoppers. However, My Best Buy rewards members may avail of exclusive savings or early access to deals. (Not a member? It’s free to sign up.)

What will be on sale?

Best Buy’s current ‘Bigger Deal Savings Event’ promotions include up to $250 off select gaming laptopsup to 50% off small kitchen appliances, and up to $400 off select Samsung Galaxy phones. Browse all of the event’s ongoing deals here

Basilisk Ultimate HyperSpeed Wireless Gaming Mouse with Charging Dock (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)75-Inch Class X950H (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)
Kohl’s

kohl's store

Kohl’s ‘Wow Deals’ event will be held in-stores and online for the duration of Amazon Prime Day: June 21 through 22. 

Sale shoppers can also earn $10 in Kohl’s Cash for every $50 spent during ‘WOW Deals.’ That’s free money you get to spend on future purchases. Kohl’s Card holders can also get an additional 15% off on the event’s deals and promotions. 

What will be on sale?

A sneak peek of the offers from ‘Wow Deals’ include a $150 Google Nest Hello Doorbell, $200 Shark Ion Robot Vacuum, and a $200 Shark Navigator Lift-Away Vacuum — all of which earn $30 of Kohl’s Cash. 

During its competing Prime Day sale last year, Kohl’s offered a Ninja Foodi 5-in-1 Indoor Grill for $200 — and sweetened the deal by adding $30 Kohl’s Cash. Look for notable savings on kitchen wares, bedding, furniture, and other home goods.

Bed Bath & Beyond

bed bath & beyond

Bed Bath & Beyond’s Fall Sale featured up to 60% off bedding, 30% off curtains and rugs, and 25% off fall decor. Shoppers also received $50 in My Funds Rewards (valid for 30 days) on purchases over $200.

Expect more of the same this year from Bed Bath & Beyond’s competing Prime Day sale. For extra savings, get a one-year Beyond+ membership for $29 and enjoy 20% off and free standard shipping on all orders. You may be able to effectively make that Beyond+ membership free if Bed Bath & Beyond includes a $29 bonus card with sign-up, like it did during last year’s sale.

What will be on sale?

Standout offers from last year’s sale included $25 off a Le Creuset Tea Kettle and $50 off a Zwilling 8-inch chef’s knife. This year, expect to find offers on bedding, decor, small appliances, and robot vacuums.

Home Depot

Home Depot

Home Depot’s concurrent Prime Day 2020 sale saw up to 50% off interior furniture, decor, and kitchenware. Its other main event, the Fall Appliance Sale, was also ongoing and lasted through October 21.

Since Amazon Prime Day is happening on June 21-22, it’s likely to overlap with some of Home Depot’s summertime specials. This may be a boon for anyone looking to buy indoor furniture, as mid-summer specials tend to yield the best deals for those items.

What will be on sale?

Last year’s Home Depot sale featured up to 30% off select power tools and small appliances, up to 40% off select bathroom vanities, and up to 50% off select interior furniture. Expect similar sales for 2021. 

eBay

eBay

If you don’t have a Prime membership, eBay is a great alternative to Amazon. To compete with Amazon’s member-exclusive Prime Day sales, eBay typically holds a competing sale that’s available to all shoppers.

What will be on sale?

Last year, eBay had discounts on TVs, headphones, gaming systems, cameras, vacuums, appliances, clothing, sneakers, luggage, smart home devices, and more.

Some of the most notable brands that were on sale last year include Adidas, Apple, Dyson, Canon, KitchenAid, Sony, Samsonite, and LG.

Chewy

A small cat behind a blue Chewy goody box.

Last year’s Chewy Blue Box Event ran from October 11 through October 15, alongside Amazon Prime Day. The online marketplace actually extended its sale event to continue through October 15, serving up even more discounts. 

Chewy sells pet products across all categories, including food, treats, supplies, and treatments. The previous year’s Blue Box Event offered all of that and more, meaning you should expect similar deals this time around, with savings beginning in just under two days. If you can’t wait to begin saving, Chewy also has a deals page on its website that houses the best deals of the day

What will be on sale? 

The Blue Box Event in 2020 featured 30% off pet essentials, 40% off your first Autoship order, and buy three, get one free for pet toys, apparel, and treats. Shoppers also got 25% off when they purchased two customized products.

Backcountry

Three Backcountry employees pose for the camera inside of a Backcountry store; there is clothing and outdoor gear all around them.

Outdoor gear retailer Backcountry is set to host its 48-Hour Flash Sale on June 21 and June 22. You can find deals on big and small-name brands and product categories like clothing, footwear, accessories, and more. 

Norrona, Columbia, and Salomon are just a few of the top brands included in the flash sale. You can, however, start saving early, with Backcountry giving up to 65% off on select Stoic styles, now through June 22. 

What will be on sale? 

During the flash sale, expect to save up to 65% on select gear and apparel. Top styles such as the Sorel Emelie Chelsea Boot and the Mountain Hardwear Firefall Bib Pant will have discounted price tags.

FAQs

When is Amazon Prime Day 2021?

This year, Amazon Prime Day takes place on June 21 and June 22. We expect to see several discounts last a few days after the end of Amazon Prime Day.

Are Amazon Prime Day deals worth it?

Short answer: it depends on what you’re shopping for.

To expand upon that, Amazon Prime Day is, first and foremost, an Amazon event. That means the strongest offers will be on Amazon products like its Echo smart speakers, Amazon Music Unlimited subscriptions, and Amazon-brand groceries. 

With major retailers like Walmart, Kohl’s, and Target running competing sales alongside Prime Day, you have some leeway to shop around for better deals on what you need. 

Can anyone buy Amazon Prime Day deals?

Amazon Prime Day deals are for Amazon Prime members only. Fortunately, if you’re not a member yet and aren’t keen to purchase a full membership, you can take advantage of a free 30-day trial with full benefits. However, a Prime membership comes with a plethora of benefits that you can take advantage of year-round so it’s worth signing up if you shop Amazon often.

The appeal of competing Prime Day deals, however, is that they’re open to the general public. Stores like Walmart may peddle their own membership offers, but these sales are otherwise inclusive outside of Amazon Prime Day.

Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, and other stores will offer competing sales during Amazon Prime Day – here are the ones we know about so far

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Walmart+ Delivery Unlimited
  • Amazon Prime Day, landing June 21 and 22, has become another Black Friday.
  • As a result of Prime Day’s success, many retailers, including Best Buy and Walmart, offer their own competing sales.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Amazon Prime Day will be celebrating its seventh year in 2021. What started as a one-day shopping event in July 2015 has now become a multi-day affair with a wide range of stores hosting competing sales.

When Amazon Prime Day debuted in 2015, Walmart – Amazon’s largest competitor – held its own major sales event the same week. Since then, many more retailers have joined in what’s developed into the largest shopping event of the year outside of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But it makes sense, as the pressure of over 150 million US shoppers with Prime memberships spending their money at Amazon over the course of a few days has prompted competitors to host concurrent sales.

This year, major retailers are once again lining up to compete with Amazon Prime Day deals. Target, Walmart, and Kohl’s were the first to announce their competing sales, but we expect more details to be announced as we get closer to Amazon Prime Day.

We’ve answered some frequently asked questions regarding these competing Amazon Prime Day sales below.

Here’s a list of what to expect from competing Amazon Prime Day 2021 sales:

Walmart

Walmart+ Delivery Unlimited 2

Walmart’s ‘Deals for Days’ event will run from June 20 to 23 — a day before and lasting a day longer than Amazon Prime Day. 

So far, Walmart Plus members don’t get any exclusive perks during ‘Deals for Days.’ For those unfamiliar, Walmart Plus is the retail giant’s answer to a Prime membership. It offers unlimited same-day delivery for 160,000 items and costs $98 a year, about $20 less than one year of Amazon Prime. 

What will be on sale?

For 2021, we’ll likely see steep discounts on everything from entertainment and tech to kitchen appliances and video games during the ‘Deals for Days’ event. Here are some we know of ahead of time: 

AirPods Pro (medium)Roomba 670 Robot Vacuum (medium, Preferred: Walmart)
Target

target store

The ‘Target Deal Days’ event lands on June 20 and ends on June 22. That’s a day before Amazon Prime Day and a day shorter than Walmart’s ‘Deals for Days’ event.

Starting June 16-19, you can pick up a digital Target GiftCard for 5% off at Target.com. It’s an excellent chance to save a little bit more money if you plan on shopping the ‘Deal Days’ event.

What will be on sale?

Target’s previous event included $50 off the iRobot Roomba 695, $150 off the Dyson V8 Motorhead, and $100 off a Samsung 50-inch The Frame 4K Smart TV. 

This year, look for deep discounts on tech, smart home, gaming, and many more product categories.

Maker (medium, Preferred: Target)Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe Upright Vacuum (medium)
Best Buy

best buy

Best Buy’s ‘Bigger Deal Savings Event’ starts well before the competition — it’ll take place from June 15 to 22. This is unprecedented: Best Buy’s previous Prime Day sales started and ended with Amazon’s sale. 

Best Buy’s competing Prime Day discounts are open to all shoppers. However, My Best Buy rewards members may avail of exclusive savings or early access to deals. (Not a member? It’s free to sign up.)

What will be on sale?

Best Buy’s current ‘Bigger Deal Savings Event’ promotions include up to $250 off select gaming laptopsup to 50% off small kitchen appliances, and up to $400 off select Samsung Galaxy phones. Browse all of the event’s ongoing deals here

Basilisk Ultimate HyperSpeed Wireless Gaming Mouse with Charging Dock (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)75-Inch Class X950H (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)
Kohl’s

kohl's store

Kohl’s ‘Wow Deals’ event will be held in-stores and online for the duration of Amazon Prime Day: June 21 through 22. 

Sale shoppers can also earn $10 in Kohl’s Cash for every $50 spent during ‘WOW Deals.’ That’s free money you get to spend on future purchases. Kohl’s Card holders can also get an additional 15% off on the event’s deals and promotions. 

What will be on sale?

A sneak peek of the offers from ‘Wow Deals’ include a $150 Google Nest Hello Doorbell, $200 Shark Ion Robot Vacuum, and a $200 Shark Navigator Lift-Away Vacuum — all of which earn $30 of Kohl’s Cash. 

During its competing Prime Day sale last year, Kohl’s offered a Ninja Foodi 5-in-1 Indoor Grill for $200 — and sweetened the deal by adding $30 Kohl’s Cash. Look for notable savings on kitchen wares, bedding, furniture, and other home goods.

Bed Bath & Beyond

bed bath & beyond

Bed Bath & Beyond’s Fall Sale featured up to 60% off bedding, 30% off curtains and rugs, and 25% off fall decor. Shoppers also received $50 in My Funds Rewards (valid for 30 days) on purchases over $200.

Expect more of the same this year from Bed Bath & Beyond’s competing Prime Day sale. For extra savings, get a one-year Beyond+ membership for $29 and enjoy 20% off and free standard shipping on all orders. You may be able to effectively make that Beyond+ membership free if Bed Bath & Beyond includes a $29 bonus card with sign-up, like it did during last year’s sale.

What will be on sale?

Standout offers from last year’s sale included $25 off a Le Creuset Tea Kettle and $50 off a Zwilling 8-inch chef’s knife. This year, expect to find offers on bedding, decor, small appliances, and robot vacuums.

Home Depot

Home Depot

Home Depot’s concurrent Prime Day 2020 sale saw up to 50% off interior furniture, decor, and kitchenware. Its other main event, the Fall Appliance Sale, was also ongoing and lasted through October 21.

Since Amazon Prime Day is expected to return this summer, it’s likely to overlap with some of Home Depot’s summertime specials. This may be a boon for anyone looking to buy indoor furniture, as mid-summer specials tend to yield the best deals for those items.

What will be on sale?

Last year’s Home Depot sale featured up to 30% off select power tools and small appliances, up to 40% off select bathroom vanities, and up to 50% off select interior furniture. Expect similar sales for 2021. 

FAQs

When is Amazon Prime Day 2021?

Amazon Prime Day has been hinted to make a return in June or July. It usually falls in the middle of July, but the pandemic pushed last year’s Prime Day to mid-October — right before the launch of Black Friday specials.

Are Amazon Prime Day deals worth it?

Short answer: it depends on what you’re shopping for.

To expand upon that, Amazon Prime Day is, first and foremost, an Amazon event. That means the strongest offers will be on Amazon products like its Echo smart speakers, Amazon Music Unlimited subscriptions, and Amazon-brand groceries. 

With major retailers like Walmart, Kohl’s and Target running competing sales alongside Prime Day, you have some leeway to shop around for better deals on what you need. 

Can anyone buy Amazon Prime Day deals?

Amazon Prime Day deals are for Amazon Prime members only. Fortunately, if you’re not a member yet and aren’t keen to purchase a full membership, you can take advantage of a free 30-day trial with full benefits. However, a Prime membership comes with a plethora of benefits that you can take advantage of year-round so it’s worth signing up if you shop Amazon often.

The appeal of competing Prime Day deals, however, is that they’re open to the general public. Stores like Walmart may peddle its own membership offers, but outside of Amazon Prime Day these sales are otherwise inclusive.

Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Home Depot has contracted its own container ship, trying to sidestep a global shipping crisis that threatens to disrupt holiday orders

home depot customer shopper washing machines
  • Home Depot has contracted its own container ship to bring its products to the US.
  • Home Depot is among many retailers hit by a global shipping crisis that has led to delays and rising prices.
  • Experts say holiday season shopping may be disrupted by limited stock and higher prices.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Home Depot, hoping to sidestep a global shipping crisis, has contracted its own ship to transport its goods.

The home-improvement store is one of many retailers grappling with shipping delays and rising costs caused by supply-chain problems. According to data from the Journal of Commerce, cited by CNBC, Home Depot is the third-largest importer by sea freight in the US.

“We have a ship that’s solely going to be ours,” Home Depot president and COO Ted Decker said in an interview with CNBC. “It’s just going to go back and forth with 100% dedicated to Home Depot.”

A breakdown in the freight supply chain, created by falling demand in the first half of 2020 followed by a surge at the end of the year, has led to delays, port traffic jams, and blockages. A lack of containers and dock workers is making this worse.

For retailers, this means a risk of low stock, especially as we approach the holiday season.

“Right now, they are all trying to figure out ‘How do we mitigate that risk to make sure that we’ve got the product here in time for when those holiday season sales start?'” Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy for the National Retail Federation, told CNBC.

“That could mean moving up timing for when you bring your product in, which could further lead to additional congestion and delays,” he said.

Experts say that this crisis will also lead to higher costs for customers, as retailers hike the prices to recoup the cost of shipping, which in some cases is ten times more than before the pandemic.

Clorox, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and General Mills are among major brands to have announced recent price hikes.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Kroger, Costco, Target, and more are dropping mask mandates for fully vaccinated customers. Here’s how stores are responding to new CDC guidelines.

Walmart coronavirus shopping
Shoppers wearing masks at a Walmart store in North Brunswick, New Jersey, in July.

  • The CDC relaxed its guidelines for wearing masks indoors and outdoors for fully vaccinated people.
  • Companies including Macy’s and Kroger have said workers and customers still need to wear masks.
  • Walmart, Costco, and others have dropped their mask mandates. States can still set their own rules.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday relaxed mask guidance for fully vaccinated people – but not all retailers and restaurants aren’t ready to welcome maskless customers.

Macy’s and Kroger are among those saying they’ll still make masks mandatory for shoppers and workers in their stores. Walmart, Costco, and others have dropped their mask requirement – although individual states can still mandate masks in stores.

Here’s where fully vaccinated people will and will not have to wear a mask now that the guidance has changed.

Target

mask target store
Shoppers leaving a Target in Miami.

Target updated its policies on Monday, announcing that fully vaccinated customers and workers are no longer required to wear masks in its stores unless required by individual state laws. 

“Face coverings will continue to be strongly recommended for guests and team members who are not fully vaccinated and we’ll continue our increased safety and cleaning measures, including social distancing, throughout our stores,” it said

 

Kroger

food donations kroger
A customer wearing a mask in a Kroger store in Jackson, Mississippi.

On May 20, grocery chain Kroger will be dropping its mask mandate for fully vaccinated customers and the majority of its workers, the company announced on Wednesday. However, employees working in Kroger’s pharmacies and clinics will still have to mask up.

Like other stores, the option to go mask-free still depends on state and local face covering protocols. 

 

Starbucks

Starbucks barista
A Starbucks barista.

Wearing a mask will be optional for fully vaccinated customers beginning Monday, May 17, the company said in a statement.

Masks will remain optional “unless local regulations require them by law,” the statement said.

Macy’s

macys
A person with Macy’s bags.

The department-store chain Macy’s confirmed to Insider that it would keep masks mandatory in its stores.

Walmart

Walmart
A Walmart store.

Vaccinated Walmart customers are now allowed to shop without a mask, according to a memo sent to US store associates on Friday. Fully vaccinated Walmart workers also won’t be required to mask up in-store beginning May 18.

However, the company is still reviewing mask mandates for “certain job codes for health and sanitation purposes,” and will still adhere to mask requirements depending on city and state protocols, according to the note.

Bed Bath and Beyond

bed bath & beyond
A Bed Bath and Beyond store.

A spokesperson for Bed Bath and Beyond told Insider that it was reviewing its policies, but that its mask policy currently remains unchanged.

They added that the company would continue to align its COVID-19 protocol with local, state, and government health and safety guidelines to create a safe environment for both staff and customers.

Home Depot

Home Depot
A Home Depot store.

Fully vaccinated Home Depot customers and workers will not need to wear masks inside its stores, depending on state and local mandates, a spokesperson told Insider on May 17.

Home Depot “still encourages” people who aren’t fully vaccinated to continue wearing face coverings. It’ll also maintain safety protocols like cleaning and social distancing.

 

Walgreens

walgreens masks
A sign in a Walgreens store telling customers to wear masks.

A Walgreens spokesperson told USA Today that masks will still be mandatory in its stores as these are COVID-19 testing and vaccine sites. 

Walgreens did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

CVS

CVS NYC
People outside a CVS store.

CVS said it was reviewing its mask policy.

“The safety of our employees and customers will continue to guide our decision-making process,” the company said in a statement to Insider.

Gap

gap store
A Gap store in a mall in Los Angeles, California.

According to The Times, Gap has said it’s reviewing its policies and has not confirmed whether masks will continue to be mandatory. 

A spokesperson for the apparel giant did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment. 

Publix

Publix grocery store night
A Publix.

Florida-based supermarket chain Publix is no longer requiring masks for fully vaccinated shoppers.

Dollar General

dollar general
A Dollar General store.

When asked about updated mask policies, a Dollar General spokesperson directed Insider to its website. The US chain’s COVID-19 protocols were last updated on March 10 and include a mask mandate.

Ulta

ulta
An Ulta store.

Ulta is “assessing the implications” of the new CDC guidelines, a spokesperson told Insider. The beauty giant said it would continue to enforce mask and social-distancing protocols “until our assessment is complete and we are able to share more.”

Carl’s Jr

Carl's Jr. Restaurant
Carl’s Jr.

Carl’s Jr is still requiring face masks but is now reviewing its mask policy, a Carl’s Jr spokesperson told Insider.

Costco

Costco
Costco

Costco announced on Friday that customers can now shop without a mask in stores that are located in states without a mask mandate. The retailer will not require proof of vaccination.

However, as per CDC guidelines, face masks will still be required in Costco’s healthcare sections, including its pharmacy, optical, and hearing aid divisions.

Trader Joe’s

trader joes
Customers line up outside a Trader Joe’s store.

Trader Joe’s is also dropping its mask mandate for fully vaccinated customers, and will not require proof of the vaccine, a spokesperson told Insider.

Lidl

Lidl

A spokesperson for Lidl told Insider that it was updating its policies to align with the new CDC guidance.

“Wherever legally permissible, fully vaccinated customers will be allowed into our stores without masks,” they said.

Ikea

ikea
Customers wait to get inside Ikea.

An Ikea spokesperson told Insider that its mask and social-distancing protocols would stay in place “for the time being” for both staff and customers because “changing our mask policy for requires careful consideration and planning.”

JCPenney

FILE PHOTO: A J.C. Penney employee helps a customer with her purchase at the J.C. Penney department store in North Riverside, Illinois, U.S., November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A J.C. Penney employee helps a customer with her purchase at the J.C. Penney department store in North Riverside

Department store chain JCPenney told Insider that masks and social distancing will still be required in its stores as it continues to monitor the situation.

Apple

Apple store

Apple is also keeping masks mandatory in stores for the time being, according to a Bloomberg report. 

Insider reached out to Apple for further comment but didn’t immediately hear back.

CVS

cvs pandemic customers store
CVS.

Fully vaccinated CVS Pharmacy customers will no longer be required to wear face masks unless state or local protocols dictate otherwise, the company announced on Monday.

Employees and unvaccinated patrons will still be required to mask up.

Meijer

meijer
A Meijer store.

Supermarket chain Meijer has rolled back its mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers in stores where state and local protocols allow it to do so, a spokesperson told Insider in an email.

However, workers and unvaccinated patrons must remain masked.

Kohl’s

kohl's

Kohl’s confirmed to Insider that as of May 17 all fully vaccinated store workers and customers will be able to go mask-free, provided individual states allow it. 

Aldi

Aldi store shop

Aldi told Insider that it is continuing to require all employees and customers to wear a face covering and to maintain social distancing, but added that it would continue to assess its COVID-19 safety practices and keep customers informed of any future changes.

Office Depot

office depot
An Office Depot store in Annapolis.

Office Depot is currently reviewing its mask policy, a spokesperson told Insider on May 18, but will not be changing it or other COVID-19 safety protocols “immediately.”

Best Buy

Best Buy
Best Buy.

Best Buy dropped its mask mandate for fully vaccinated customers and in-store workers On May 18. Like other retailers, the option to go mask-free still hinges on state and local protocols. 

Lush

People stand inside a Lush cosmetics store in Berlin, Germany, July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
People stand inside a Lush cosmetics store in Berlin

A Lush spokesperson told Insider that it was reviewing the new CDC guidelines and planning its next times. It said that the safety of its staff and customers remained its “top priority.”

Subway

subway sandwich

A Subway spokesperson told Insider that the sandwich chain was evaluating its mask policy following the CDC guidance.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Home Depot, Costco, Target, and more are dropping mask mandates for fully vaccinated customers. Here’s how stores are responding to new CDC guidelines.

Walmart coronavirus shopping
Shoppers wearing masks at a Walmart store in North Brunswick, New Jersey, in July.

  • The CDC relaxed its guidelines for wearing masks indoors and outdoors for fully vaccinated people.
  • Companies including Macy’s and Kroger have said workers and customers still need to wear masks.
  • Walmart, Costco, and others have dropped their mask mandates. States can still set their own rules.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday relaxed mask guidance for fully vaccinated people – but not all retailers and restaurants aren’t ready to welcome maskless customers.

Macy’s and Kroger are among those saying they’ll still make masks mandatory for shoppers and workers in their stores. Walmart, Costco, and others have dropped their mask requirement – although individual states can still mandate masks in stores.

Here’s where fully vaccinated people will and will not have to wear a mask now that the guidance has changed.

Target

mask target store
Shoppers leaving a Target in Miami.

Target updated its policies on Monday, announcing that fully vaccinated customers and workers are no longer required to wear masks in its stores unless required by individual state laws. 

“Face coverings will continue to be strongly recommended for guests and team members who are not fully vaccinated and we’ll continue our increased safety and cleaning measures, including social distancing, throughout our stores,” it said

 

Kroger

food donations kroger
A customer wearing a mask in a Kroger store in Jackson, Mississippi.

The grocery chain Kroger said it would keep masks mandates for its customers and workers at its nearly 3,000 stores.

“As we have throughout the pandemic, we are reviewing current safety practices, the CDC’s latest guidance, and soliciting feedback from associates to guide the next phase of our policy,” a Kroger spokesperson told Insider.

Starbucks

Starbucks barista
A Starbucks barista.

Wearing a mask will be optional for fully vaccinated customers beginning Monday, May 17, the company said in a statement.

Masks will remain optional “unless local regulations require them by law,” the statement said.

Macy’s

macys
A person with Macy’s bags.

The department-store chain Macy’s confirmed to Insider that it would keep masks mandatory in its stores.

Walmart

Walmart
A Walmart store.

Vaccinated Walmart customers are now allowed to shop without a mask, according to a memo sent to US store associates on Friday. Fully vaccinated Walmart workers also won’t be required to mask up in-store beginning May 18.

However, the company is still reviewing mask mandates for “certain job codes for health and sanitation purposes,” and will still adhere to mask requirements depending on city and state protocols, according to the note.

Bed Bath and Beyond

bed bath & beyond
A Bed Bath and Beyond store.

A spokesperson for Bed Bath and Beyond told Insider that it was reviewing its policies, but that its mask policy currently remains unchanged.

They added that the company would continue to align its COVID-19 protocol with local, state, and government health and safety guidelines to create a safe environment for both staff and customers.

Home Depot

Home Depot
A Home Depot store.

Fully vaccinated Home Depot customers and workers will not need to wear masks inside its stores, depending on state and local mandates, a spokesperson told Insider on May 17.

Home Depot “still encourages” people who aren’t fully vaccinated to continue wearing face coverings. It’ll also maintain safety protocols like cleaning and social distancing.

 

Walgreens

walgreens masks
A sign in a Walgreens store telling customers to wear masks.

A Walgreens spokesperson told USA Today that masks will still be mandatory in its stores as these are COVID-19 testing and vaccine sites. 

Walgreens did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

CVS

CVS NYC
People outside a CVS store.

CVS said it was reviewing its mask policy.

“The safety of our employees and customers will continue to guide our decision-making process,” the company said in a statement to Insider.

Gap

gap store
A Gap store in a mall in Los Angeles, California.

According to The Times, Gap has said it’s reviewing its policies and has not confirmed whether masks will continue to be mandatory. 

A spokesperson for the apparel giant did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment. 

Publix

Publix grocery store night
A Publix.

Florida-based supermarket chain Publix is no longer requiring masks for fully vaccinated shoppers.

Dollar General

dollar general
A Dollar General store.

When asked about updated mask policies, a Dollar General spokesperson directed Insider to its website. The US chain’s COVID-19 protocols were last updated on March 10 and include a mask mandate.

Ulta

ulta
An Ulta store.

Ulta is “assessing the implications” of the new CDC guidelines, a spokesperson told Insider. The beauty giant said it would continue to enforce mask and social-distancing protocols “until our assessment is complete and we are able to share more.”

Carl’s Jr

Carl's Jr. Restaurant
Carl’s Jr.

Carl’s Jr is still requiring face masks but is now reviewing its mask policy, a Carl’s Jr spokesperson told Insider.

Costco

Costco
Costco

Costco announced on Friday that customers can now shop without a mask in stores that are located in states without a mask mandate. The retailer will not require proof of vaccination.

However, as per CDC guidelines, face masks will still be required in Costco’s healthcare sections, including its pharmacy, optical, and hearing aid divisions.

Trader Joe’s

trader joes
Customers line up outside a Trader Joe’s store.

Trader Joe’s is also dropping its mask mandate for fully vaccinated customers, and will not require proof of the vaccine, a spokesperson told Insider.

Lidl

Lidl

A spokesperson for Lidl told Insider that it was updating its policies to align with the new CDC guidance.

“Wherever legally permissible, fully vaccinated customers will be allowed into our stores without masks,” they said.

Ikea

ikea
Customers wait to get inside Ikea.

An Ikea spokesperson told Insider that its mask and social-distancing protocols would stay in place “for the time being” for both staff and customers because “changing our mask policy for requires careful consideration and planning.”

JCPenney

FILE PHOTO: A J.C. Penney employee helps a customer with her purchase at the J.C. Penney department store in North Riverside, Illinois, U.S., November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A J.C. Penney employee helps a customer with her purchase at the J.C. Penney department store in North Riverside

Department store chain JCPenney told Insider that masks and social distancing will still be required in its stores as it continues to monitor the situation.

Apple

Apple store

Apple is also keeping masks mandatory in stores for the time being, according to a Bloomberg report. 

Insider reached out to Apple for further comment but didn’t immediately hear back.

CVS

cvs pandemic customers store
CVS.

Fully vaccinated CVS Pharmacy customers will no longer be required to wear face masks unless state or local protocols dictate otherwise, the company announced on Monday.

Employees and unvaccinated patrons will still be required to mask up.

Meijer

meijer
A Meijer store.

Supermarket chain Meijer has rolled back its mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers in stores where state and local protocols allow it to do so, a spokesperson told Insider in an email.

However, workers and unvaccinated patrons must remain masked.

Kohl’s

kohl's

Kohl’s confirmed to Insider that as of May 17 all fully vaccinated store workers and customers will be able to go mask-free, provided individual states allow it. 

Aldi

Aldi store shop

Aldi told Insider that it is continuing to require all employees and customers to wear a face covering and to maintain social distancing, but added that it would continue to assess its COVID-19 safety practices and keep customers informed of any future changes.

Office Depot

office depot
An Office Depot store in Annapolis.

Office Depot is currently reviewing its mask policy, a spokesperson told Insider on May 18, but will not be changing it or other COVID-19 safety protocols “immediately.”

Best Buy

Best Buy
Best Buy.

Best Buy dropped its mask mandate for fully vaccinated customers and in-store workers On May 18. Like other retailers, the option to go mask-free still hinges on state and local protocols. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

CVS, Walmart, Costco, Target, and others are dropping mask mandates for fully vaccinated customers. Here’s how retailers are responding to new CDC guidelines.

Walmart coronavirus shopping
Shoppers wearing masks at a Walmart store in North Brunswick, New Jersey, in July.

  • The CDC relaxed its guidelines for wearing masks indoors and outdoors for fully vaccinated people.
  • Some companies, including Macy’s and Kroger, have said workers and customers still need to wear masks.
  • But Walmart, Costco, and others have dropped their mask mandates. States can still set their own rules.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday relaxed mask guidance for fully vaccinated people – but not all retailers and restaurants aren’t ready to welcome maskless customers.

Macy’s and Kroger are among those saying they’ll still make masks mandatory for shoppers and workers in their stores. Walmart, Costco, and others have dropped their mask requirement – although individual states can still mandate masks in stores.

Here’s where fully vaccinated people will and will not have to wear a mask now that the guidance has changed.

Target

mask target store
Shoppers leaving a Target in Miami.

Target updated its policies on Monday, announcing that fully vaccinated customers and workers are no longer required to wear masks in its stores unless required by individual state laws. 

“Face coverings will continue to be strongly recommended for guests and team members who are not fully vaccinated and we’ll continue our increased safety and cleaning measures, including social distancing, throughout our stores,” it said

 

Kroger

food donations kroger
A customer wearing a mask in a Kroger store in Jackson, Mississippi.

The grocery chain Kroger said it would keep masks mandates for its customers and workers at its nearly 3,000 stores.

“As we have throughout the pandemic, we are reviewing current safety practices, the CDC’s latest guidance, and soliciting feedback from associates to guide the next phase of our policy,” a Kroger spokesperson told Insider.

Starbucks

Starbucks barista
A Starbucks barista.

Wearing a mask will be optional for fully vaccinated customers beginning Monday, May 17, the company said in a statement.

Masks will remain optional “unless local regulations require them by law,” the statement said.

Macy’s

macys
A person with Macy’s bags.

The department-store chain Macy’s confirmed to Insider that it would keep masks mandatory in its stores.

Walmart

Walmart
A Walmart store.

Vaccinated Walmart customers are now allowed to shop without a mask, according to a memo sent to US store associates on Friday. Fully vaccinated Walmart workers also won’t be required to mask up in-store beginning May 18.

However, the company is still reviewing mask mandates for “certain job codes for health and sanitation purposes,” and will still adhere to mask requirements depending on city and state protocols, according to the note.

Bed Bath and Beyond

bed bath & beyond
A Bed Bath and Beyond store.

A spokesperson for Bed Bath and Beyond told Insider that it was reviewing its policies, but that its mask policy currently remains unchanged.

They added that the company would continue to align its COVID-19 protocol with local, state, and government health and safety guidelines to create a safe environment for both staff and customers.

Home Depot

Home Depot
A Home Depot store.

Home Depot has not updated its mask policy, a spokesperson told Insider.

Walgreens

walgreens masks
A sign in a Walgreens store telling customers to wear masks.

A Walgreens spokesperson told USA Today that masks will still be mandatory in its stores as these are COVID-19 testing and vaccine sites. 

Walgreens did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

CVS

CVS NYC
People outside a CVS store.

CVS said it was reviewing its mask policy.

“The safety of our employees and customers will continue to guide our decision-making process,” the company said in a statement to Insider.

Gap

gap store
A Gap store in a mall in Los Angeles, California.

According to The Times, Gap has said it’s reviewing its policies and has not confirmed whether masks will continue to be mandatory. 

A spokesperson for the apparel giant did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment. 

Publix

Publix grocery store night
A Publix.

Florida-based supermarket chain Publix is no longer requiring masks for fully vaccinated shoppers.

Dollar General

dollar general
A Dollar General store.

When asked about updated mask policies, a Dollar General spokesperson directed Insider to its website. The US chain’s COVID-19 protocols were last updated on March 10 and include a mask mandate.

Ulta

ulta
An Ulta store.

Ulta is “assessing the implications” of the new CDC guidelines, a spokesperson told Insider. The beauty giant said it would continue to enforce mask and social-distancing protocols “until our assessment is complete and we are able to share more.”

Carl’s Jr

Carl's Jr. Restaurant
Carl’s Jr.

Carl’s Jr is still requiring face masks but is now reviewing its mask policy, a Carl’s Jr spokesperson told Insider.

Costco

Costco
Costco

Costco announced on Friday that customers can now shop without a mask in stores that are located in states without a mask mandate. The retailer will not require proof of vaccination.

However, as per CDC guidelines, face masks will still be required in Costco’s healthcare sections, including its pharmacy, optical, and hearing aid divisions.

Trader Joe’s

trader joes
Customers line up outside a Trader Joe’s store.

Trader Joe’s is also dropping its mask mandate for fully vaccinated customers, and will not require proof of the vaccine, a spokesperson told Insider.

Lidl

Lidl

A spokesperson for Lidl told Insider that it was updating its policies to align with the new CDC guidance.

“Wherever legally permissible, fully vaccinated customers will be allowed into our stores without masks,” they said.

Ikea

ikea
Customers wait to get inside Ikea.

An Ikea spokesperson told Insider that its mask and social-distancing protocols would stay in place “for the time being” for both staff and customers because “changing our mask policy for requires careful consideration and planning.”

JCPenney

FILE PHOTO: A J.C. Penney employee helps a customer with her purchase at the J.C. Penney department store in North Riverside, Illinois, U.S., November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A J.C. Penney employee helps a customer with her purchase at the J.C. Penney department store in North Riverside

Department store chain JCPenney told Insider that masks and social distancing will still be required in its stores as it continues to monitor the situation.

Apple

Apple store

Apple is also keeping masks mandatory in stores for the time being, according to a Bloomberg report. 

Insider reached out to Apple for further comment but didn’t immediately hear back.

CVS

cvs pandemic customers store
CVS.

Fully vaccinated CVS Pharmacy customers will no longer be required to wear face masks unless state or local protocols dictate otherwise, the company announced on Monday.

Employees and unvaccinated patrons will still be required to mask up.

Meijer

meijer
A Meijer store.

Supermarket chain Meijer has rolled back its mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers in stores where state and local protocols allow it to do so, a spokesperson told Insider in an email.

However, workers and unvaccinated patrons must remain masked.

Kohl’s

kohl's

Kohl’s confirmed to Insider that as of May 17 all fully vaccinated store workers and customers will be able to go mask-free, provided individual states allow it. 

Aldi

Aldi store shop

Aldi told Insider that it is continuing to require all employees and customers to wear a face covering and to maintain social distancing, but added that it would continue to assess its COVID-19 safety practices and keep customers informed of any future changes.

Read the original article on Business Insider