Monday, 26 Feb 2024

GameStop says it’s an ‘essential’ retail service, should stay open during pandemic

GameStop is arguing it sells “essential” products, and should remain open in the face of government orders to close businesses, like retail stores, restaurants, and bars, in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to an email sent to employees on Thursday.

According to three sources, the company sent out a missive to retail managers today, saying, “We believe that GameStop is classified as essential retail and therefore is able to remain open at this time.” The message from GameStop argues that the retailer carries goods that “enable and enhance our customers’ experience in working from home.”


GameStop workers say the company is failing to address the coronavirus

“We have received reports of local authorities visiting stores in an attempt to enforce closure despite our classification,” the message says and store managers are instructed to give a letter to law enforcement agents who make inquiries. The document states: “Thank you for what you are doing to keep us all safe. If you have questions about our store’s hours, operations or policies could I ask you to please call our corporate office.”

Polygon called the number listed in that letter, which goes to a voicemail for the company’s purported coronavirus inquiries response. We left a message but have not yet received a reply.

In some areas of the country, shelter-in-place orders have been enacted that call for all non-essential stores to be closed. Essential services that are allowed to stay open generally include emergency, utilities, transport, gas, food, medicine, banks, laundry, cemeteries, and hardware stores. Other stores are ordered to close.

One GameStop employee, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, told Polygon they believe the company is “putting employees at even more risk” by remaining open.

GameStop’s response to the coronavirus pandemic comes in the wake of a general decline in the retail company’s fortunes, including store closures, redundancies and increased pressure on workers to buttonhole customers with used item trade offers.

Polygon has also contacted GameStop’s publicity department. A company spokesperson did not address its policy of keeping stores open directly, but released a statement that mentioned various other plans related to the coronavirus outbreak, including a decision to suspend trade-ins.

If you’re a GameStop employee who has dealt with law enforcement inquiries about your store, please contact the author of this story.

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