After receiving considerable backlash for deeming itself "essential" and staying open during the coronavirus pandemic, GameStop has amended its policy. The company has promised to close all US customer-facing stores and will continue operations digitally. It also pledged to pay affected employees an additional two weeks wages, in addition to a one-month reimbursement of employee benefits.
In a statement, GameStop CEO George Sherman spoke of priorities and following government advice. "As millions of Americans look to GameStop to adjust to their new normal of increased time at home, for work, learning and play, we have implemented practices to help ensure the safety and health of our employees, customers, and partners."
He continued, "We believe it is prudent to institute further safety protocols while meeting this increased demand through curbside pick-up. As such, stores that remain in operation will provide only pick-up at the door or delivery to home activities to further protect our employees and customers.”
The decision follows the publication of an internal email that was apparently sent out to various store managers. In the email, GameStop told employees the company is "classified as essential retail and therefore is able to remain open at this time." It argued that it carries goods that “enable and enhance our customers’ experience in working from home.”
The note acknowledged that some of its branches had trouble with local law enforcement trying to shut them down. In response, the company simply instructed employees to show officers a card stating, “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."
In many areas of the USA, shelter-in-place orders have been enacted that call for all non-essential businesses to be closed. Essential services typically include emergency, utilities, transport, gas, food, medicine, banks, laundry, and cemeteries — not video game stores.
GameStop received a lot of backlash for remaining open in these times and was rightly called out for putting its employees and customers at risk. One employee took to Twitter to hand in her resignation in response to the news and called out the company for its "deplorable decision" that throws "both customer and game advisor safety out of the window in favor of profits." Read below.
In response to the general backlash, the retailer initially issued a public statement doubling down on its stance. "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."
Read just a fraction of the heat GameStop faced for making such a careless decision below.