GameStop says it provides ‘essential goods’ just like grocery stores to justify keeping stores open


GameStop says it provides ‘essential goods’ like grocery stores and pharmacies to justify why their stores will remain open during the coronavirus pandemic

  • The video game retailer sent a memo to managers at its 5,700 retail locations
  • It instructs managers to resist local attempts to close its stores by claiming the company sells ‘essential’ electronics that many will need for telecommuting
  • Some employees are uncomfortable with the policy, saying the memo ‘essentially said to disobey law enforcement’
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

GameStop is telling its employees to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic in spite of widespread shutdowns, arguing its stores provides provide ‘essential’ goods just as grocery stores and pharmacies do.

The company has distributed a memo to all of its 5,700 retail locations that store managers should present to any city or state official that attempts to close the store as a public health precaution.

The memo argues that, in addition to games hardware, the stores sell a variety of electronic goods that could be useful to people who are telecommuting during the pandemic.

GameStop sent a memo to all of its 5,700 retail locations instruction store managers to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic, arguing that its electronics accessories were ‘essential’ goods for telecommuters 

‘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,’ the memo reads, as reported by Vice.

‘We have received reports of local authorities visiting stores in an attempt to enforce closure despite our classification. Store managers are approved to provide the document linked below to law enforcement as needed.’

GameStop has instituted a number of changes to its store policies during the pandemic. 

The company has suspended its used game buying operations until March 29, stores now allow only 10 customers inside at a time, customers can opt to pick up their online orders in front of the store, and operating hours have been shortened to 12:00PM-8:00PM.

Still, many GameStop employees have been uncomfortable withe company’s treatment of its workers during the COVID-19 outbreak

Employees have reported being denied additional sicks days or time off, and many have had to pay out of pocket for standard cleaning supplies as the company’s normal suppliers have run out.

‘My colleagues and I are sharing a small bottle of hand sanitizer that was purchased through our own pockets as well as making as much usage out of a depleting bottle of All Purpose Cleaner,’ one employee told Kotaku.

‘We were only just given permission to turn off console demos yesterday and my cleaning supplies have been back ordered for two months.’

‘As far as more immediate measures go, the stores in my area have received nothing.’ 

Many GameStop employees have been critical of the chain's policies during COVID-19, pointing to its refusal to offer additional sick days or provide hand sanitizer

Many GameStop employees have been critical of the chain’s policies during COVID-19, pointing to its refusal to offer additional sick days or provide hand sanitizer

GameStop defended its decision to remain open during the pandemic by restating its position that its non-gaming supplies are could be used to keep ‘schools, businesses, and families’ connected.

‘As millions of Americans face unprecedented challenges adapting to virtual learning, working and interaction, there is significant need for technology solutions and we are one of many providers of these products that are remaining open at this time,’ the statement argues.

In addition to games and game equipment, the store sells smartphones, tablets, HDMI cables, headphones, and other general electronics accessories.

‘While there are many businesses and organizations far more critical than ours, we believe we can have a positive impact during this very challenging time,’ the statement says.

Employees worry the policy is putting them in a difficult position by asking them to push back on government officials.

‘They’ve essentially said to disobey law enforcement in any state that shuts down non essential retail, as they believe we are providing an essential service to people that shop at a video game store,’ one anonymous GameStop employee told Vice.



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