What does ‘Code Brown’ in Walmart signify and how you should react?

Aabha Gopan
2 min readJan 26, 2023

Usually, announcements at Walmart stores are unconcerning, like ‘wet spill’ and ‘dry spill’. These announcements are transparent and don’t get customers worried. However, some announcements are coded, like ‘Code Brown’, and are secret information that only the staff understand.

According to KFBK, an AM radio station, some announcements in Walmart are coded to prevent customers from panicking. If customers are alarmed, they might become difficult to guide, and the staff might not be able to execute the pre-planned emergency strategy to get them to safety.

A current Walmart employee revealed what the coded announcements mean in a Quora post. She shared that ‘Code Brown’ stands for an act of violence in the store. Similarly, a Redditor confirmed what Code Brown signifies, and Mashed reported it.

However, Yahoo and Mashed suggest customers remain calm and, most importantly, follow the Walmart staff’s guidelines. They ask customers not to cause chaos by revealing the meaning of the code or running or shouting as it would be difficult for the staff to take them to safety.

Like ‘Code Brown’, there are other coded announcements in Walmart. ‘Code Blue’ implies a bomb threat, ‘Code Black’ means the weather is severe, and ‘Code White’ indicates an accident in the store.

But not all coded announcements are life-threatening. For example, ‘Code 1’ means there has been shoplifting, ‘Code 10’ implies a dry spill, and ‘Code 20’ indicates a wet spill. Similarly, Code 50 is to collect and bring back carts from the parking lot, and ‘Code C’ stands for customer assistance.

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