GameStop Stores Shutter Across the US Following Pennsylvania Coronavirus Closures [UPDATED]

GameStop to eliminate customer access to its stores as the retailer pivots to digital, eCommerce, and curbside pickup to combat the spread of coronavirus in the US.

By Joel Taveras

March 22, 2020

UPDATE from 3/22: A spokesperson from Gamestop has reached out to DualShockers to provide clarification. Gamestop “closed stores in PA to comply with the state’s mandate to ensure the safety of our customers and associates, not because we lost our permit license.”

UPDATE: Following news of the closure, GameStop has announced that they will be closing all access to physical stores across the United States, and will be moving solely to digital sales, online sales, and curbside pickup at stores. Additionally, GameStop claims in their press release that they will continue paying employees whose hours are cut for the next two weeks; a month of benefit contributions will be reimbursed to all employees affected.

Original reporting follows:

On Thursday, March 19, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that all businesses except for those considered to be “life-sustaining” are to be closed to help combat the spread of coronavirus throughout the state. This comes within days of both Governor Gavin Newsom of California and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, who announced similar state-wide “shelter-in” responses to flatten the curve on the pandemic. And while most businesses took the hint, game retailer GameStop refused to close their doors among an upcoming Animal Crossing and DOOM Eternal release.

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In the midst of businesses trying to navigate through what is deemed as “essential” during this time, video game retailer GameStop has found itself in a string of public relations missteps through business practices that have put both employees and consumers at risk by not just remaining open but also conducting “business as usual” practices like receiving and handling trade-ins product and inventory.

Despite the guidance presented by local and state officials on what is considered an “essential business” GameStop took it upon itself to determine that it needed to remain open. In fact, the retailer doubled down and in a memo to employees, it instructed how to interact with law enforcement who show up to enforce the “life-sustaining businesses only” executive order.

Governor Tom Wolf is not leaving it up to GameStop (or any retailer) in the state, and his office is not taking risks regarding what is and what isn’t considered essential or life-sustaining business during this time — outlined in a newly-updated Industry Operations Guidance classifying Electronics retail as non-essential. In a Reddit post, it appears that not only will GameStop not be considered essential but it won’t even get the chance to combat the ruling as its Operating Permit (License) has been suspended until further notice in the state.

Governor Tom Wolf pulls game stop’s business license from r/GameStop

Update: With this in mind, most GameStops will still be open today and up to until 8 AM Eastern on Monday morning. Tom Wolf has granted a temporary extension to newly-affected businesses, including GameStop, to continue operations and wind down following the news. However, as of Monday, enforcement will take shape in the form of fines and forced closures. Businesses throughout the state of Pennsylvania have filed waiver requests and some changes have been made to the Governors list of “life sustaining” businesses, however retail businesses classified under “electronics” and “hobby” are both still expected to be closed.

Unfortunately, it’s unknown how GameStop will support its impacted employees as the company navigates through these immediate coronavirus related closures (or as such closures become more widespread). Earlier this month, the company announced that former Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime would be joining its board of directors, a move that the company hopes will help drive its strategic initiatives. The retailer has struggled over the better half of the last decade and continues to explore new revenue streams as more consumers shift to digital storefronts and online retailers. We have reached out to GameStop for a statement as of this writing but have yet to hear back.

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Joel Taveras

Joel Taveras is one of the founding members of DualShockers. He hails from New York City where he lives with his wife and two sons. During his tenure with the site, he's held every position from news writer to community manager to editor in chief. Currently he manages the behind the scenes and day-to-day operations at the publication.

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