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Walmart Implementing COVID-19 Restrictions

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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Walmart is instituting strict limits on access to its more than 4,700 stores across the nation. 
 
As of Saturday, April 4, the number of customers allowed in store will be limited to five per every 1,000 square feet, or about 20 percent of each store's capacity.
 
Associates will direct customers to a marked queue at a single-entry door  and they will be admitted one-by-one and counted. Associates and signage will remind customers of the importance of social distancing while they're waiting to enter a store – especially before it opens in the morning.
 
"While many of our customers have been following the advice of the medical community regarding social distancing and safety, we have been concerned to still see some behaviors in our stores that put undue risk on our people," Dacona Smith, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Walmart U.S., wrote on the corporate site on Friday.
 
"We want to encourage customers to bring the fewest number of people per family necessary to shop, allow for space with other customers while shopping, and practice social distancing while waiting in lines. We're also seeing states and municipalities set varying policies regarding crowd control – which has created some confusion regarding shopping."
 
Walmart says it's taken measures to safeguard associates' health including expanding paid leave, reducing hours to accommadate overnight cleaning and stocking, installing sneeze guards, starting temperature checks, and providing masks and gloves.
 
"In this taxing and uncertain time, our associates have gone above and beyond to help Americans get the food, medicine and supplies they need," Smith wrote. 
 
Groceries and pharmacies, along with other food and medical services, have been deemed essential businesses in states that have ordered stay at home or shutdown advisories. However, stores have also been roping off what is considered "non-essential" items such as clothing to reduce the amount of time customers linger inside. 
 
Stores in Massachusetts have gradually implemented standards including social distancing benchmarks at registers and closed self-serve stations. 
 
At Walmart, customers will now be allowed to enter on a "one out, one in" once the store reaches the new capacity limits. A number of stores will also begin directing customers in a one-way movement using floor markers to prevent them from coming in close contact to each other.
 
Signage will remind customers to maintain social distancing and once they check out, they will be directed to exit through a different door than they entered.
 
"We always want people to feel welcome at Walmart, and we know that in ordinary times a store is a gathering place for members of a community to connect and socialize," said Smith. "We look forward to the time when that is again the case; however, we now want to prioritize health and safety by encouraging customers to do their shopping at a distance from others, then head home."

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Know Your Risk Tolerance at Different Stages of Life

Submitted by Edward Jones

As an investor, you will always need to deal with risk of some kind. But how can you manage the risk that has been made clear by the recent volatility in the financial markets? The answer to this question may depend on where you are in life. 

Let's look at some different life stages and how you might deal with risk at each of them: 

• When you are first starting out: If you are early in your career, with perhaps four or even five decades to go until you retire, you can likely afford to invest primarily for growth, which also means you will be taking on a higher level of risk, as risk and reward are positively correlated. But, given your age, you have time to overcome the market downturns that are both inevitable and a normal part of investing. Consequently, your risk tolerance may be relatively high. Still, even at this stage, being over-aggressive can be costly. 

• When you are in the middle stages: At this time of your life, you are well along in your career, and you are probably working on at least a couple of financial goals, such as saving for retirement and possibly for your children's college education. So, you still need to be investing for growth, which means you likely will need to maintain a relatively high risk tolerance. Nonetheless, it's a good idea to have some balance in your portfolio, so you will want to consider a mix of investments that align with each of your goals. 

• When you are a few years from retirement: Now, you might have already achieved some key goals – perhaps your kids have finished college and you have paid off your mortgage. This may mean you have more money available to put away for retirement, but you still will have to think carefully about how much risk you are willing to take. Since you’re going to retire soon, you might consider rebalancing your portfolio to include some more conservative investments, whose value is less susceptible to financial market fluctuations. The reason? In just a few years, when you are retired, you will need to start taking withdrawals from your investment portfolio – essentially, you will be selling investments, so, as much as possible, you will want to avoid selling them when their price is down. Nonetheless, having a balanced and diversified portfolio doesn't fully protect against a loss. However, you can further reduce the future risk of being overly dependent on selling variable investments by devoting a certain percentage of your portfolio to cash and cash equivalents and designating this portion to be used for your daily expenses during the years immediately preceding, and possibly spilling into, your retirement. 

• When you are retired: Once you are retired, you might think you should take no risks at all. But you could spend two or three decades in retirement, so you may need some growth potential in your portfolio to stay ahead of inflation. Establishing a withdrawal rate – the amount you take out each year from your investments – that's appropriate for your lifestyle and projected longevity can reduce the risk of outliving your money. Of course, if there's an extended market downturn during any time of your retirement, you may want to lower your withdrawal rate temporarily. 

As you can see, your tolerance for risk, and your methods of dealing with it, can change over time. By being aware of this progression, you can make better-informed investment decisions.

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