GameStop Tells Employees To Argue Stores Are 'Essential Retail'

Essential retailers are allowed to stay open during areas hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak because they provide things like food and medicine.

GameStop issued a memo to employees Thursday instructing them to keep stores open during the coronavirus pandemic because the company views itself as “essential retail” alongside grocers and pharmacies.

Store managers were specifically told to push back on local authorities’ requests to close GameStop locations.

“Due to the products we carry that enable and enhance our customers’ experience in working from home, we believe GameStop is classified as essential retail and therefore is able to remain open during this time,” read the memo, which was posted to Reddit and separately obtained by HuffPost. Kotaku and Vice also verified the content of the memo.

Even in high-risk cities such as New York, stores that provide food and medicine have been allowed to stay open.

If asked to shut down, GameStop managers are told to hand law enforcement a particular document, which outlines the company’s policy and tells them to contact headquarters with any questions.

It reads:

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.

GameStop Corporate Office

Thank you for understanding.

HuffPost reached out to GameStop for comment but did not immediately receive a reply. A statement on the company website says the retailer “is working diligently during this unprecedented time” to provide a safe environment.

“We are implementing changes to our retail operations so that we may continue to provide products to our customers that allows them to stay connected, and provide products that allows business and consumers to work remotely,” the statement reads. Measures include front-door pickup, reduced hours and suspension of the retailer’s trade-in electronics program for 10 days.

GameStop has been struggling financially as more gamers are simply buying games online.

Two hugely popular games, however, are set to be released this week: “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” and “Doom Eternal.”

Typically, big game releases lead to crowds of people lining up at storefronts, which is exactly the sort of behavior that can spread coronavirus. Health experts have urged people across the country to practice social distancing and try to stay at least six feet from others in public. And while the virus appears to be most lethal in older patients, new reports suggest younger people ― gaming’s chief demographic ― may be more susceptible to it than they realize.

Late Wednesday, GameStop announced it would release “Doom” Thursday and “Animal Crossing” Friday to reduce lines.

In an unprecedented move, thousands of U.S. stores have offered to close down to prevent the spread of the virus, while restaurants and bars have been ordered to halt regular operations in cities and states.

But GameStop has come under fire for failing to take the threat of the virus seriously. Beyond refusing to close, GameStop has failed to provide its stores with adequate cleaning supplies, according to an earlier report from Vice. And while employees were reportedly told to stay home if sick, they were not assured that doing so would not impact their paid time off, unlike other retailers.

Keep up with the latest updates on the coronavirus at our live blog.

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