This "unofficial policy change" has all the earmarks of someone's personal preferences being pushed.
Of course, a polite inquiry to the District/Regional Manager, or to Corporate, might stop all the speculation about what is or is not taking place. (That's a HINT for those effected.) Be sure to get the names of the local store folks giving you the information about the "unofficial policy change" and the dates they informed you. That info helps higher management sort out who needs to hear what from higher management about managing the local store.