Retail ensnared in nationwide protests
“We are a community in pain. That pain is not unique to the Twin Cities — it extends across America,” wrote Target CEO Brian Cornell Friday in an open letter.
The letter arrived following the third night of protests in the retailer’s hometown of Minneapolis where George Floyd died in police custody and on the same day a former police officer was charged with murder.
“The murder of George Floyd has unleashed the pent-up pain of years, as have the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor,” Mr. Cornell continued. “We say their names and hold a too-long list of others in our hearts.”
A Target store across the street from the epicenter of many of the city’s protests was one of the first to be looted and damaged. By Sunday, Target was indicating that it was temporarily closing or shortening the hours of about 200 stores as protests and looting spread across the country.
Mr. Cornell pledged Target’s support of communities during the healing process. He concluded, “Since we opened our doors, Target has operated with love and opportunity for all. And in that spirit, we commit to contributing to a city and community that will turn the pain we’re all experiencing into better days for everyone.”
Theft and smashed windows have already cost millions in damage, but many retailers are likewise standing in solidarity with the protests.
Amazon.com, which scaled back deliveries in some cities to protect drivers, wrote on Twitter, “The inequitable and brutal treatment of black people in our country must stop. Together we stand in solidarity with the Black community — our employees, customers, and partners — in the fight against systematic racism and justice.”
Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, tweeted, “Minneapolis is grieving for a reason. To paraphrase Dr. King, the negative peace which is the absence of tension is no substitute for the positive peace which is the presence of justice. Justice is how we heal.”
Nike released a video that began with, “For once, Don’t Do It. Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America.”
— Nike (@Nike) May 29, 2020
Nordstrom executives Pete and Erik Nordstrom wrote in a letter to employees, “The unnecessary and unjust killing of anyone must not be accepted.”
Others, including Gap and Lululemon, joined Microsoft, Netflix, T-Mobile and JP Morgan in offering support for black communities.
In a posting on Macy’s Instagram account, Chairman & CEO Jeff Gennette concluded his statement of sympathy and support with the protesters by saying, “While we cannot always control what happens outside of our stores and facilities, we can shape the culture within. One of inclusion. One that welcomes and respects all. One that believes — and acts on — the principle that all of us are created equal.”
- A Note From Brian Cornell to Our Teams and Communities in the Twin Cities and Beyond – Target
- Target Temporarily Closing or Shortening Hours at 200 Stores – The New York Times
- Lululemon – Instagram
- These Brands Are Speaking Out Against Racism on Social Media – Adweek
- With Protests Raging in U.S., Amazon Curbs Operations and Apple Keeps Some Stores Closed – Bloomberg
- Amazon – Instagram
- Nike releases ‘Don’t Do It’ ad addressing racism in America – CNBC
- Nike, Reebok & More Big Brands Are Taking a Stand For Racial Injustice as National Unrest Heats Up – Footwear News
- Amazon, Microsoft, other tech leaders sound off amid protests over death of George Floyd – GeekWire
- Macy’s – Instagram
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your view on how retailers and brands have reacted to nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd? What should stores do in response to looting situations?