As summer stretches into July, fewer and fewer reminders of the pandemic remain at supermarkets across the country. Like other major retailers, Walmart has eased some of its COVID-19 restrictions, including its mask mandate and shorter store hours.
Much has changed in the past year at Walmart, and we're starting to get our first glimpse of what the new "normal" could look like at America's largest grocery chain. Without further ado, here are four things that you won't encounter while shopping at Walmart again. And before you leave for your next grocery run, read up on the 6 Best Groceries To Buy At Walmart Right Now.
Walmart announced at the end of April that the giant orange pickup towers towering over checkout lanes at 1,500 stores would disappear. More customers are embracing pickup and home delivery, and Walmart is responding to this change.
Curbside pickup and delivery aren't the only other innovations that Walmart has in the works. The company has tested and invested in driverless trucks, drones, temperature-controlled delivery smart boxes, and more.
Related: To get all of the latest Walmart news delivered right to your email inbox every day, sign up for our newsletter!
News quickly spread about the end of Walmart's mask mandate, but another COVID-19 era rule closed on a much quieter note. The company's "Important Store Info" page says retail hours will expand to 6 a.m. through 11 p.m. after June 5. The update "will provide customers with greater options to shop for the food, medicine, and supplies they need," Walmart says.
There hopefully won't be any toilet paper shortages—at least any time soon. CEO John Furner recently said more time and money (about $350 billion, in fact) are being invested in the retailer's supply chain in order to make it more dynamic.
"We're investing in our supply chain in a big way over the next few years," he said. "Not only in the physical supply chain but also about how our supply chain can be more dynamic . . . I think over the next few years, you'll see supply chains become more dynamic and the timeline from idea to delivery speed up."
Related: Walmart is Putting These Items on Sale for July 4th
McDonald's restaurants began to disappear from inside Walmart stores well before the pandemic—more than a decade ago, to be exact. Now, fewer of the burger eateries are left than ever. Only about 150 out of 875 locations will remain after the latest wave of closures, according to estimates.
Moving into the spaces previously occupied by McDonald's are chains like Domino's, La Madeleine French Bakery & Cafe, and Taco Bell.
For more Walmart news, read up on these headlines:
- 9 Walmart Buys That Are "Flying Off the Shelves" Right Now
- This Major Walmart Rumor is False, Company Says
- 14 Best Ways to Save Money at Walmart