Should retail close?
Apple, Nike, Warby Parker, Abercrombie & Fitch, Urban Outfitters, Glossier and Allbirds were among a number of retailers that have closed or announced plans to close their U.S. stores to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
Many also closed stores globally. Several indicated hourly workers would continue to be paid. In most cases, retailers are planning to reopen stores in late March. The retailers noted that online sales would continue.
“The well-being of our teammates and consumers is our top priority,” Nike said in a statement.
Apple has reopened its China stores but this weekend closed stores elsewhere.
“What we’ve learned together [in China] has helped us all develop the best practices that are assisting enormously in our global response,” said Tim Cook, CEO, in a statement. “One of those lessons is that the most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance. As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers.”
Many retailers had already closed offices and asked corporate employees to work from home.
“It’s an unfortunate but very necessary decision,” Susquehanna International analyst Sam Poser told CNN about the closures. “How important are a few days of business versus the health of your people, the health of your employees and customers, and your brand reputation?”
On Sunday, Starbucks became the first food establishment to eliminate seating in locations in North America and shift to an entirely to-go model. Locations in “high-social gathering areas,” including malls and university campuses, will be temporarily closed. Stores in communities with a high number of COVID-19 cases will see reduced hours or closure.
Rossann Williams, president of Starbucks’ U.S. business and Canada, said in a statement, “As we all know, the situation with COVID-19 is extremely dynamic and we will continue to review the facts and science to make the proactive decisions necessary to protect our partners, customers and communities.”
Overseas where the number of cases is significantly higher, Spain became the second country in Europe after Italy to impose a lockdown and order people to stay at home. France ordered the closure of restaurants, cafes, movie theaters and other nonessential shops.
- Nike Statement – Nike
- Apple’s COVID-19 response – Apple
- Coronavirus Prompts Abercrombie, Nike, Others to Close Shops – The Wall Street Journal
- Nike, Urban Outfitters and other retailers shuttering stores temporarily because of coronavirus – Q13 Fox
- Nike is closing all of its stores in the US because of the coronavirus outbreak – CNBC
- Millions confined to homes after Spain and France impose coronavirus lockdowns – Financial Times
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should all non-essential stores temporarily close to counter the spread of coronavirus? What obvious and less obvious factors should weigh into the decision?