En español | With the country reaching record highs in new coronavirus cases, many state, city and county governments are ordering that people wear masks when out and about. That's in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that face coverings help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Many national retail chains have taken the same tack, requiring face masks in all stores, for shoppers as well as staff. After Walmart, the nation’s biggest retailer, joined their ranks on July 15, a flurry of companies quickly followed suit, including Amazon, Kroger, Walgreens and Home Depot.
The 10 largest retailers in the U.S. and most of the top 40, as ranked by the National Retail Federation (NRF) based on sales, now have chainwide mask mandates. Here’s a list of biggest retail companies currently requiring patrons to wear face coverings. In most cases the store numbers below are from the NRF, as of 2019
(Editor's note: This list is limited to retailers in the NRF's top 40. Many smaller chains also require masks in their stores. If you have questions about mask policies at a company not listed here, check its website or contact its corporate office.).
NRF rank: 1
U.S. stores: 5,355 (including Sam’s Club)
The nation’s biggest retailer started requiring customers to wear masks at all Walmart and Sam's Club stores on July 20. The rule represents “a simple step everyone can take for their safety and the safety of others in our facilities,” the company said in announcing the policy on July 15. Employees will be stationed at store entrances to remind customers of the requirement and work with those who arrive without a mask.
NRF rank: 2
U.S. stores: 564
The e-commerce giant instituted a mask requirement on July 20 at its Whole Foods Market supermarkets and Amazon Books, Amazon 4-Star and other branded brick-and-mortar outlets.
NRF rank: 3
U.S. stores: 3,003
The country's largest supermarket chain put a mask mandate in place on July 22. “We are taking this extra step now because we recognize additional precautions are needed to protect our country,” the company said in a July 15 statement.
NRF rank: 4
U.S. stores: 542
The members-only warehouse club was the first major national retailer to implement a face-mask requirement, doing so on May 4. Costco updated the policy on Nov. 10, mandating that customers who could not wear a mask due to a medical condition — who were previously exempt from the face-covering rule — use a face shield instead. The new policy took effect Nov. 16.
NRF rank: 5
U.S. stores: 9,168
Citing guidance from the CDC and other public health officials, the nation’s biggest drugstore chain announced July 16 that it is “expanding requirements for customers to wear face covers while in stores across all Walgreens locations chainwide.” The policy took effect July 20.
NRF rank: 6
U.S. stores: 1,973
As of July 22, customers must wear face coverings at all Home Depot stores. “Social distancing captains and store associates will be available to provide masks to those shoppers who may not have one,” the company said in announcing the change on July 17.
NRF rank: 7
U.S. stores: 9,909
CVS started requiring masks in all stores on July 20. “We’re not asking our store employees to play the role of enforcer,” Jon Roberts, the pharmacy chain's chief operating officer, said in a July 16 statement. “What we are asking is that customers help protect themselves and those around them by listening to the experts and heeding the call to wear a face covering.”
NRF rank: 8
U.S. stores: 1,868
“Starting August 1, we’re requiring guests to wear masks or face coverings in all of our stores, except for those with underlying medical conditions and young children,” the company said in a July 16 update to its coronavirus response page. Stores will provide disposable masks to shoppers who arrive without one.
NRF rank: 9
U.S. stores: 1,727
The home improvement chain’s mask mandate took effect July 20. “For the safety of everyone in our stores, we ask that customers wear masks, and to make this new standard less restrictive, we will make masks available to those who need them,” CEO Marvin Ellison said in a July 17 statement.
NRF rank: 10
U.S. stores: 2,258
“Effective July 21, 2020, we will require customers across all of our locations to wear face coverings when shopping with us, for their protection and for that of our associates,” the parent company of Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel Osco and other grocery chains announced July 16 on its corporate website.
NRF rank: 11
U.S. stores: 271
“Face coverings will be required for all of our teams and customers, and we will provide them to customers who don’t bring their own,” the tech retailer announced on May 17 as it was reopening its stores.
NRF rank: 13
U.S. stores: 13,846
Starting Aug. 1, customers are required “to wear face coverings when entering our U.S. restaurants,” the company said in a July 24 statement. The fast-food giant said it will aim to “quickly find solutions” when patrons are unable or unwilling to wear a mask and will “put in place additional procedures to take care of them in a friendly, expedited way.”
NRF rank: 14
U.S. stores: 995
“Customers and employees are required to wear a face covering. We will supply a face covering if you don’t have one,” the electronics retailer states in an online rundown of its in-store safety measures. The mandate was announced July 14 and implemented the following day.
NRF rank: 15
U.S. stores: 1,479
“Beginning July 21, customers are required to use face coverings over their noses and mouths while inside any Publix store,” the supermarket chain said in a message posted July 16 to its web page on coronavirus shopping protocols. “This new mandate is encouraged by the CDC for most individuals.”
NRF rank: 16
U.S. stores: 3,247
TJX is the parent of T.J.Maxx and Marshalls, as well as outdoor store Sierra and home furnishings chain HomeGoods. Identical customer information pages on each brand’s website state, “In all of our U.S. stores, customers are required to wear face coverings.” The mandate was implemented on July 30.
NRF rank: 17
U.S. stores: 2,586
The discount grocery chain updated its COVID-19 page July 17 to announce a shift from requesting to requiring that shoppers wear face coverings, as “an enhanced safety measure intended to help limit the spread of COVID-19.” The new policy took effect July 27.
NRF rank: 18
U.S. stores: 16,368
“To enhance social distancing and cleaning protocols, and except as may be otherwise required by law, Dollar General currently requires all employees, vendors and customers to wear facial coverings in stores, distribution centers and corporate offices,” the discount chain said in an Aug. 9 update on its COVID-19 response.
NRF rank: 19
U.S. stores: 333
In a June 30 update of a press statement, the Texas grocery chain said that 85 percent of its stores are located in communities that have implemented local mask requirements, adding, “In areas that do not have a local ordinance in place, H-E-B stores will require the use of masks or facial coverings,” with exceptions for children and people with health issues that preclude this practice.
NRF rank: 20
U.S. stores: 780
Macy’s shoppers are required to wear masks as of July 22. The department store chain said in a July 17 statement that employees will not be required to enforce the policy.
NRF rank: 21
U.S. stores: 15,059
The discount retailer, which also operates the Family Dollar chain, first instituted a mask mandate on July 8, switched later that month to requesting that shoppers cover their faces, then reinstated the requirement in early August.
NRF rank: 22
U.S. stores: 1,600-plus
“Customers are required to wear cloth face coverings” at Verizon’s retail locations, according to the company’s web page on store operations.
NRF rank: 24
U.S. stores: 1,171
The department store made face-covering mandatory on July 20. With government mask orders already applying to about 70 percent of its locations, “we’ve made the decision to take a consistent approach across our entire store fleet,” the company said in a July 15 announcement.
NRF rank: 26
U.S. stores: 15,041
The coffee chain’s mask mandate took effect July 15. “We respectfully require customers follow social distancing and safety protocols recommended by public health officials, including wearing a facial covering when visiting our stores,” Starbucks states on its COVID-19 information page. The company says employees “have the right and responsibility to refuse service to customers who are not wearing facial coverings.”
NRF rank: 28
U.S. stores: 247
The Midwestern superstore implemented a mask mandate on July 20 for its locations throughout Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.
NRF rank: 29
U.S. stores: 352
The corporate parent of northeastern supermarket ShopRite as well as smaller grocery chains Price Rite and The Fresh Grocer affirms in an online FAQ on customer and employee safety that “store associates and customers are required to wear masks or face coverings.”
NRF rank: 30
U.S. stores: 1,805
The off-price department store started “requiring all customers and associates to wear a face covering” on Aug. 3, according to its updated store safety guidelines.
NRF rank: 31
U.S. stores: 2,200
"Masks are required to be worn by employees, customers and visitors in our stores (both in store and curbside) and will be provided to customers who need them,” an AT&T spokesman said in an emailed statement.
NRF rank: 32
U.S. stores: 2,461
The pharmacy chain's mask rule took effect July 21. Rite Aid stores will provide free face coverings for customers, but “out of an abundance of caution for their safety, associates will not be asked to enforce requirements,” the company said in announcing the policy shift on July 17.
NRF rank: 33
U.S. stores: 368
“To keep everyone safe, we require all customers to wear a face covering while shopping in stores,” the company now says at the top of its COVID-19 updates page. The department store chain announced and implemented the mask mandate on July 17.
NRF rank: 34
U.S. stores: 2,337
The apparel company has required shoppers to mask up in all its North American stores, including Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Intermix, Athleta, and Janie and Jack, since Aug. 1.
NRF rank: 35
U.S. stores: 218
“Effective Monday, July 20, 2020, anyone entering a BJ’s location will be required to wear a facial covering that covers both the mouth and nose at all times while shopping in our Clubs,” the membership warehouse club says on its coronavirus FAQ page.
Alimentation Couche-Tard (Circle K)
NRF rank: 36
U.S. stores: 6,977
Couche-Tard, a Canadian convenience store company, owns the U.S.-based Circle K chain, which instituted a mask requirement on July 20. “As a responsible retailer, we believe that our mask policy can support us in our efforts to protect the health and safety of our store associates and customers,” Circle K says in a COVID-19 FAQs page on its regional websites.
NRF rank: 37
U.S. stores: 312
The Midwestern home-improvement chain is “requiring all Guests and Team Members to wear masks when shopping at all store locations,” according to its COVID-19 policy page.
NRF rank: 39
U.S. stores: 1,522
“To help stop the spread of COVID-19, all customers and associates must wear a face covering or mask over their nose and mouth while shopping in our stores,” the pet-supply company said in a July 17 update to its coronavirus information page.
Bed Bath & Beyond
NRF rank: 40
U.S. stores: 1,423
The home goods chain incorporated a mask requirement into its store safety plan on July 24. “In line with the latest guidance from the CDC and others, we believe this simple step will help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” the company said in a July 17 statement.