Yahoo Finance's Julia LaRoche joins On The Move to discuss Walmart's decision to require face masks for customers and workers at all U.S. stores.
- At the top of the hour, we told you about the news from Walmart that they are going to require their customers to wear masks. And of course, shares of Walmart, by the way, up today about 1.5%. Julia LaRoche, you have a good relationship with this company. You follow them. What can you tell us more about this?
JULIA LAROCHE: Yeah, I've been [INAUDIBLE] for several years now. And keep in mind, it's [INAUDIBLE] largest employer. More than a million associates work for Walmart. And it's also the world's largest retailer. You're talking about millions of customers going in on a daily basis. And Walmart will start requiring all customers, all employees to wear facial coverings while visiting its stores and clubs. It operates nearly 5,000 of these supercenter stores, and also keep in mind the Sam's Club stores, those membership warehouses. About 600 of those.
65% of its store fleet are within an area that already has a government-- some sort of local mandate around facial coverings. Keep in mind, this has become a pretty polarizing issue. You have seen the videos surfacing on social media that get pretty heated at times. But Walmart's recognizing here that this is a-- it's a public safety issue, it's a public health issue, and that they have an opportunity to really step in and do something about it by requiring the facial coverings. As I mentioned, they'll take place on July 20th.
They are also creating a new role at Walmart. It is called health ambassador. This person will go through some sort of training to kind of help make this process smooth as possible when implementing the rule. This person will don a black polo shirt. They will be located around the entrance of the store to remind customers of the new policy change. At Sam's Club, the membership warehouses I mentioned, the 600 of those, they are going to be handing out complimentary masks for any members that don't have one. They also have them for purchase.
Now, Walmart's chief operating officer, Dacona Smith, sent out a blog post where she talked about this. And she wrote, "we know some people have differing opinions on this topic. We also recognize the role we can play to help protect the health and well-being of communities we serve by following the evolving guidance of health officials like the CDC." Now, Walmart certainly isn't the first company to come out with a policy, despite not having a federally mandated facial covering policy. Remember, Starbucks, actually starting today, has been requiring all of its customers entering its US cafes-- they have about, I don't know, 15,000 of those or so in the US-- customers to also wear masks, just like their employees. So you're really seeing more companies step into the fray here on the mask issue, taking a stand and implementing a policy of their own.