Although Walmart, Target, and Costco stores remain some of the few public places left open during the coronavirus outbreak, some of these large retailers have been ordered to scale back their in-store offerings to reduce foot traffic. And that’s on the heels of stores suspending in-store returns.

Here’s what’s going on:


Michigan is closing down sections for gardening, furniture, carpeting, and more.

In an effort to deter shopping for non-essential items, Michigan’s larger stores must close off certain sections such as paint, carpeting, furniture, and gardening. Gretchen Whitmer, governor of Michigan, held a recent coronavirus briefing in which she stressed that storegoers should only be purchasing essential items.

Additional limitations have been placed on Michigan’s bigger stores, such as allowing in four customers for every 1,000 square sq. feet of floor space. Governor Whitmer stated that, “If you’re not buying food or medicine or other essential items, you should not be going to the store.”


You can’t buy an Xbox or a treadmill inside Vermont big-box stores.

In order to cut down on the number of people heading to stores, the Governor of Vermont issued an executive order that closes businesses that don’t sell “food, beverage, animal feed, and essential supplies.”

But for stores like Walmart, Target, and Costco, the order directs them to stop selling non-essential items, which include:

  • Arts and crafts
  • Beauty products
  • Clothing
  • Consumer electronics
  • Entertainment
  • Furniture
  • Home and garden
  • Jewelry
  • Sports equipment
  • Toys


Summit County, Colorado restricted sale of non-essentials three days before the statewide shelter-in-place order.

On March 23, 2020, the health board in Summit County, Colorado issued a notice banning big retail chains from selling anything in-store other than:


  • Groceries
  • Cleaning products
  • Pet food and supplies
  • Pharmaceuticals


This notice came three days before the statewide shelter in place order came from the governor.


Springfield, Missouri residents can’t shop for non-essential items up to the stores’ discretion.

The local health authorities are allowing stores to self-regulate which items they deem essential, and as of April 7 retailers such as Walmart are complying with the order, in effect until April 27.


Howard County, Indiana has been restricting purchases since March 20 out of fairness.

Howard County’s restrictions were put in place out of fairness to other local stores who were temporarily shut down for being deemed non-essential. Big retailers allowed to remain open were apparently selling non-essential items anyway. Not only did local retailers complain, but big retail store employees were getting frustrated by shopping browsing in non-essential aisles out of boredom.


Customers can still purchase non-essentials via pickup and delivery.

The order directs big-box stores to only offer non-essential items via online portals and phone, with delivery or curbside pickup — “to the extent possible.”

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This doesn’t affect that many stores, but other states are watching.

Most U.S. states have closed down non-essential businesses, and they’re likely watching the above states to see what kind of success they’ve had with these stricter measures. We will continue to update this article as new counties or states enact these limitations on shopping.


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Walmart, Target, Costco Directed to Stop Selling Non-Essentials in Some Stores