GameStop Reportedly Asking Stores to Not Comply With Coronavirus Closure Orders

GameStop allegedly asked employees to keep stores open despite orders from states to close down all non-essential businesses.

GameStop Coronavirus
Photo: Richard Levine/Getty

Kotaku has received a copy of a memo reportedly circulating among GameStop management which urges store operators to keep their locations open in the event of coronavirus-related state shutdowns.

“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,” reads part of the memo.

The memo goes on to suggest that store employees should refuse requests from local law enforcement agencies to shut down and direct law enforcement agents and other authority figures to contact GameStop headquarters if they have any questions or concerns about their decision to stay open.

This news comes in the wake of reports that GameStop employees feared the company was dangerously unprepared to safely stay open during the coronavirus outbreak. Employees claimed they had still not received extra shipments of hand sanitizer and disinfectant cleaners. Some locations were reportedly even running out of toilet paper and other goods. While GameStop noted that it intends to release Doom Eternal ahead of schedule in order to reduce instances of people crowding stores to buy that and Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the same day, the company’s own statement on the preventative measures it’s taking does not mention potential closures.

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GameStop’s preventative plan includes allowing only 10 customers in a store at a time, making sure customers are standing 6-feet apart from each other while in line to check out, reducing store hours of operation to 12-8 pm, postponing all midnight launch activities, temporarily suspending trade-ins, and disabling demo stations. GameStop will also allow customers to pick up their orders at the front door of U.S. locations.

“We are providing all our stores with the necessary supply of disinfectant materials and hand sanitizer to frequently clean high-touch surfaces to kill germs and ensure our stores are a safe environment for both our customers and store associates,” GameStop wrote in its note to customers. “All associates have been instructed to stay home if they are sick and are experiencing any flu-like symptoms related to COVID-19, no matter how mild, and until they have been cleared by a medical professional to return to work.

The company closed the note: “We are all in this together.”

It’s been suggested that GameStop executives worry that the company could not survive a potentially lengthy closure as a result of the health crisis. Some employees even state that they’ve been encouraged to take advantage of the current emergency.

In recent months, GameStop has revealed plans to reinvigorate its brand by turning some of its stores into more social-oriented centers that emphasize on-site play and other hobby store activities. Obviously, that approach will not fly in the current climate.

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As for GameStop’s memo…well…what can you even say? While we respect that the coronavirus situation has forced business owners to make hard decisions and many retail employees to (at least temporarily) lose their jobs, no argument exists which could possibly justify GameStop suggesting the company should defy public health orders because it is a retail service that offers something as essential as food and medicine. In this writer’s opinion, the only thing GameStop has really offered over the last few years or so is $5 for a clean copy of a two-week-old game.

We don’t know if a potential shutdown would spell the end of GameStop, but if it turns out this memo is real, then that perhaps deserves to be the final nail in the coffin of a company that has historically been linked to shady business practices for far too long. Our sincere hope is that GameStop executives (a group that now includes Nintendo legend Reggie Fils-Aimé) step in to immediately disown the ideas suggested in this memo and announce that they will shut down all stores if requested to do so like so many other companies, organizers, and creators already have.

We’ll bring you more on this story as additional information becomes available.