COVID-19 has caused several businesses to close their doors temporarily, both in Australia and abroad. Over in the United States, several states have ordered all ‘non-essential’ American shops to close for an indefinite period of time. Despite this, GameStop – which owns Australia’s EB Games – has spent the past weeks fighting to keep their stores open for business, claiming their service of providing webcams, keyboards, and other tech equipment were ‘essential’. But is seems like GameStop has lost this battle, as they declared in their most recent statement that they will be temporarily closing all US stores.
In a memo first obtained by Kotaku on the 20th of March, the games retailer urged its staff to keep working in stores even in case of a city lock down, as GameSpot claimed is was providing ‘essential services’ to help customers connect with each other remotely. This news came after after a number of local councils in the US had already ordered all non-essential shops to temporarily close their doors, leaving only supermarkets and pharmacies open.
Last week GameSpot released an online statement addressing their business decision, stating: “The customer is at the core of everything we do, and in light of the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic, our top priority is keeping our customers, associates and communities safe as we continue to closely monitor the situation.” The rest of the statement outlines the measures the games retailer has put in place to keep both customers and employees safe, including wiping down surfaces with disinfectant and urging employees experiencing flu-like symptoms to stay home. Worryingly, the statement contradicts some anonymous reports by GameStop employees that describe a shortage of the promised sanitary supplies and a lack of paid leave.
After many employees and fans took to social media and Reddit to air their dissatisfaction, GameSpot published another statement to further explain their reasoning, claiming that their work is essential, since they are a key provider in products enabling Americans to work remotely: “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. Schools, businesses and families are now suddenly dependent on being able to connect through technology. 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.”
Their statements did not prove convincing for the locals, who continued to heavily criticise the gaming retailer. And as per their most recent statement, All Gamestop stores across the US have now been temporarily closed. In the statement, they explain that they 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.” The statement also reportedly says that more details of its closure will be available on March 28, which lines up with its 4th fiscal quarter.
Canada’s EB Games stores have also closed due to similar criticism, but there is no word as of yet regarding Australia’s own stores. As our country’s state governments still deliberate on how to prevent the spread of Covid-19, we may or may not see some closures of our own. We’ll have to keep our ear to the ground for more info.