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Walmart, H-E-B may not return to 24-hour service any time soon

Workforce Solutions of Central Texas explains how several factors are holding companies like Walmart and H-E-B back from pre-COVID-19 hours.

TEMPLE, Texas — Shoppers may be packing Central Texas grocery stores this holiday season, but shoppers hoping to see 24-hour store hours are going to be disappointed.

6 News reached out to both Walmart and H-E-B Monday asking if any locations would return to staying open 24-7.  Walmart Press Office Director Charles Crowson said no. 

"During COVID, Walmart adjusted its store hours to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. local time. There are no plans at this time to modify those hours," Crowson said in an email. 

H-E-B did not respond to the question at the time this article was published.

Charley Ayres, the Workforce Solutions of Central Texas Director of Industry and Education Partnerships, told 6 News companies are unlikely to return to 24 hours for several reasons.

The first of those is staffing. 

"In the last 12 months, we've have 8,100 job postings for retail jobs," Charley Ayres said. "Roughly 2,000 of those were job posting from Walmart."

Ayres said Walmart needed people at both local stores and their distribution center. He said H-E-B also had hundreds of openings in both categories. Those openings were just Bell, Coryell, Lampasas and Milam Counties.

With so many positions that need to be filled, running night shifts for 24-hour service would be difficult. 

That's not the only problem though, he said.

"The other thing is we very much have supply chain issues. Even if we can get folks in the stores, many times you'll see empty shelves," Ayres said. 

Ayers said there is also a shortage of merchandise with imports being behind and a shortage of truck drivers to deliver it. That's left some stores restocking during the day instead of waiting for a night crew. 

"You'll see those guys stocking during the day because they just got the product and the shelf has been empty for two days," Ayres said. 

And while employees have been difficult to find, shoppers have not. Texans are still rushing to stores trying to get all their holiday items. Ayres said companies may need to rely more on automation technologies to catch back up with demand. 

"Our population has never slowed down. Even with the pandemic, Central Texas continues to see growth," Ayres said.