Seniors want a seat at Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart Stores

May 6, 2010 4:00:39 AM PDT
Senior shoppers say they are upset with Wal-Mart, because the retail giant is removing benches from the front area of some of its stores.Older customers say they need to rest while waiting on other shoppers, but Wal-Mart says it's trying to improve the flow of shopper traffic near cash registers.

The decision to remove benches from some stores has 75-year-old Lois Patterson her up in arms.

"What were they thinking, you know we can't come in here," she said. "We're going to have to stop coming if we don't have a place to sit. We can't go and shop all at once, we have to sit and rest."

Patterson says she and several seniors shop together, but finish at different times.

"But I can't walk through that whole store and then come back out and go back to my car all in one jolt," she said. "I can't do it. And my friends can't either. We run in age from 71 to 85."

In an e-mail response Wal-Mart says, "In an effort to provide more efficient customer flow, we relocated and removed some of our benches. Our Hope Mills store has seating at both entrances, in Pharmacy and a waiting area in the Tire & Lube Express."

ABC11 Eyewitness News only found one bench inside the front of one Cumberland County store, but an assistant manager said that was also going to be removed. However, there are benches in the parking lot at a make-shift smoking area several hundred feet away from the front door.

Other shoppers say the benches are needed inside the store for seniors.

"They need a place to sit," Wal-Mart Shopper Margi Kakerback said. "They can't be coming all the way out here to the bus stop to wait for their bus that picks them up in front of the store. I can understand the loitering issue with other people, but senior citizens don't loiter."

Wal-Mart Media Relations says the policy to remove benches varies from store-to-store throughout the country. But they did say all the attention to the issue may cause them to take a second look at the decision.

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