GameStop Recklessly Brands Itself an Essential Business to Stay Open During Coronavirus Pandemic

GameStop Recklessly Brands Itself an Essential Business to Stay Open During Coronavirus Pandemic

In a memo sent to stores on Thursday, GameStop is pressing workers to keep the lights on and even go against local authorities to do it.

UPDATE (12:15 p.m. ET) – GameStop doubled down.

Now, with that in mind, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered a shutdown of all non-life-sustaining businesses as of 8 p.m. Thursday, and enforcement actions will be taken beginning 12:01 a.m. Saturday for any business that fails to comply.

Electronics and appliance stores are on the list of non-life-sustaining businesses. So GameStop stores, in Pa. at least, are required to close, regardless of how essential the company thinks it is.


ORIGINAL STORY At the risk of both its employees and customers, GameStop has branded itself “essential retail” in a reckless attempt to keep its stores open during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses like gyms, theaters, non-essential retail, and dine-in services (bars and restaurants) in cities across the U.S. have shut down in an effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which now has more than 11,000 reported cases within the country. However, in a memo sent to stores on Thursday that has since been posted publicly on Reddit, GameStop is pressing workers to keep the lights on and even go against local authorities to do it.

The memo reads:

“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.

“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.”

The letter staff is supposed to give law enforcement asks them to call GameStop’s corporate office, which set up a COVID-19 support line that will take your message upon calling. Kotaku was first to report GameStop’s plans and a DualShockers’ source later verified. Justifiably, employees are upset.

GameStop was pushing to stay open amidst the outbreak even before sending out Thursday’s memo, and has done little to protect its workforce while doing so.

The company canceled midnight launch events and started officially selling DOOM Eternal a day early to separate its crowds from the ones for Animal Crossing: New Horizons. But the retailer appears to have failed in providing its stores with extra cleaning supplies, leaving its workers to provide those for themselves while also keeping the onus on staff to enforce rules that keep store capacity to a minimum. According to Vice, employees also don’t have any protection as far as sick leave is concerned.

Video games, and entertainment in general, are going to help keep us occupied during an indefinite period of social distancing and self-isolation. But GameStop’s decision making has left its employees, and customers at the same time, needlessly exposed.