Retail Leaders React to Protests and Riots

Many of the nation’s top retail leaders reached out to their employees and the community at large as stores went dark in select locations across the country amid disruptions and destruction in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Target, Walmart, Apple, Walgreens, Nordstrom and CVS were among the many retailers that temporarily shuttered hundreds of stores over the weekend — with many locations expected to remain closed until the situation eases.

Target, which is based in Minneapolis, said it has closed has closed six stores until “further notice.” The locations include Broadway Oakland, Calif.; Buckhead South Atlanta; South Loop Chicago; Uptown Minneapolis; Washington Square W Philadelphia; and Lake Street Minneapolis. Target said it hopes to reopen the Lake Street store, which is located close to where Floyd was killed and was heavily damaged during protests, by late 2020.

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Target said its employees affected by the shutterings will be paid for up to 14 days of scheduled hours during store closures, including COVID-19 premium pay. They will also be able to work at other nearby Target locations.

The events of the past several days have prompted employee outreach by many retail CEOs as they wade into the nation’s racial divide. “We are a community in pain,” Brian Cornell wrote in a letter on the chain’s website. “That pain is not unique to the Twin Cities—it extends across America. The murder of George Floyd has unleashed the pent-up pain of years, as have the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We say their names and hold a too-long list of others in our hearts. As a Target team, we’ve huddled, we’ve consoled, we’ve witnessed horrific scenes similar to what’s playing out now and wept that not enough is changing. And as a team we’ve vowed to face pain with purpose.”

The senior leadership team of Best Buy, which is based in the suburbs of Minneapolis, posted a letter on the company’s website in which it renewed its commitment to diversity and inclusion goals.

“Every time we see this kind of tragedy it can be hard not to feel emotional, not just for the human being affected or their family, but for the colleagues we know who could be — and have been — victims of overt, hostile and even dangerous racism. If we allow ourselves, it is not hard to imagine them lying on the ground begging to breathe or bravely staring racism in the eye as they walk through a park,” the letter stated.

Starbucks, which had a store in Philadelphia heavily damaged, said it held a “partner forum” for Starbucks employees who felt compelled to join a conversation about the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor “and the many other racial injustices that have shaken the entire country and each one of us…”  Chain Store Age

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