Despite a decades-long downturn in U.S. crime rates, retailers say they’re struggling to curb shoplifting Fueling the theft are organized crime groups that can easily sell stolen goods online While the first surveillance incident happened in Houston and the second in Miami, metro Atlanta is far from immune Dunwoody police say most of the service calls they get each day are for shoplifting Retailers are using “spider packaging,” on some small but expensive items to help prevent theft Most retailers tell

Home Depot will begin closing early starting Thursday

The Home Depot announced Wednesday that it would shorten its store hours at its more than 2,280 stores across the country.

The Atlanta-based brand will close at 6 p.m. daily beginning Thursday in a response to the onset of COVID-19. There will be no changes to the store opening hours, according to the news release. Closing several hours earlier than usual, will allow associates to restock shelves and perform cleaning.

»RELATED: Kroger cutting its hours at Southeastern stores due to coronavirus

 “As an essential retailer to the communities we serve, we’re committed to keeping stores open just as we always do during times of crisis and natural disaster,” read a statement on the Home Depot website. “Homeowners and businesses depend on us for urgent needs such as hot water heaters, refrigerators, cleaning supplies, electrical and plumbing repairs, and harsh weather items like tarps, propane and batteries.”

The staff will increase its efforts to disinfect high-traffic and high-touch areas like self-checkout, door handles and bathrooms. Each associate is also taking preventative measures like enhancing handwashing throughout the day.

To assist its staff, Home Depot will expand its paid time off policy in the case that its hourly workers need relief due to COVID-19. Starting this week, all hourly full-time associates will receive an additional 80 hours of paid sick or personal time, and part-time hourly associates will receive an additional 40 hours of paid sick or personal time. These hours can be taken anytime from now until the end of the year.

“If associates are diagnosed with COVID-19 or advised by health or government officials to self-quarantine due to direct COVID-19 exposure, they’ll continue to be paid during that time,” according to a company statement. “And as always, we’re encouraging associates who are sick to stay home.”

Dozens of retailers have increased their efforts in cleaning and made decisions to reduce hours in efforts to manage depleting stocks as customers have taken on disaster shopping in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Walmart, Target, Kroger, Publix and several other national big box stores have taken similar actions.

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