GameStop announces it will close stores across the US following backlash

The decision to close stores follows an outcry from employees and lawmakers as the coronavirus outbreak continues to affect the US.

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GameStop, the video game retail chain, will close customer access to U.S. storefronts beginning Sunday, March 22, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The decision comes a day after the company closed storefronts in California. 

The company had also reportedly encouraged employees to disregard law enforcement’s calls to shut down storefronts in an internal memo, as first reported by Kotaku.

In the latest memo, the company noted GameStop will “temporarily stop customer access to storefronts, processing orders on a digital only basis, moving to curbside pick-up at stores and eCommerce delivery only.”

In a previous memo, the company instructed employees to hand law enforcement officials a prewritten statement that describes GameStop as “essential retail,” due to its stock of items that can be used by professionals instituting work-from-home policies.

Following California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s mandate that “nonessential” businesses close their doors on Thursday evening, GameStop confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that it had closed all of its stores in the state Friday. The company will also be closing its New York locations on Sunday night in accordance with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s order.

On Thursday evening, GameStop issued the following statement to THR: “While GameStop is best known as a provider of gaming and home entertainment systems, we also offer a wide array of products and devices that are important to facilitate remote work, distance learning, and virtual connectivity…. 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 company reiterated its adherence to CDC guidelines in its statement to THR: “The health and safety of our employees and customers is of utmost importance and we have and will continue to take extensive precautions consistent with CDC guidelines. We are complying with all state, county, city and local ordinances and we will continue to adjust to any future developments.”

GameStop has experienced significant financial strife in recent months, including a round of layoffs in August that affected more than 120 employees and a 27.5 percent year-over-year decrease in sales over the holiday season in 2019. 

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