SEVERE WX : Heat Advisory View Alerts

GameStop closes all stores

Many GameStop stores around the US remain open despite some state orders for non-essential retail stores to close due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Posted: Mar 22, 2020 10:34 AM


GameStop will close all of its storefronts starting Sunday following outcry from employees and calls from lawmakers to stay at home as coronavirus spreads in the United States.

Though stores will be closed to customers, GameStop will process orders on a digital only basis, moving to curbside pick-up at stores and delivery.

"This is an unprecedented time and each day brings new information about the COVID-19 pandemic. Our priority has been and continues to be on the well-being of our employees, customers and business partners. We have been steadfast in our adherence to CDC-guided safety and local government orders for retailers in each of our communities," George Sherman, GameStop's Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement.

Last week, GameStop had resisted calls to close all of its stores, saying it was an "essential" business because it offers mice and keyboards that could help people work from home. GameStop told CNN Business in a statement that "we are one of many providers of these products that are remaining open at this time." But it didn't comment on why it must remain open if other stores are also providing those items.

Stores had remained open in several states that had ordered non-essential retail to close, including New York and New Jersey. Starting Friday, the video game retailer began to close stores in California and Pennsylvania. California has been under a statewide stay home order since Thursday evening.

Eight current employees told CNN Business that GameStop was keeping its stores open to profit off of a video game shopping spree during a global pandemic. Video game sales have risen for retailers and online stores, as analysts anticipate more people are playing as they stay home. PC game store Steam reported an all-time high of 21 million users on Friday.

"Animal Crossing: New Horizons" launched in stores Friday and "Doom Eternal" was available a day earlier. Ahead of those two major video game releases, GameStop sent out an internal memo Thursday to store leaders and other employees saying that it believed its stores should be "classified as an essential business" and remain open during the global pandemic. It told employees in a letter viewed by CNN Business that they should direct law enforcement to call a corporate number if they tried to enforce store closures.

Several current employees told CNN Business that only select shops carry the kind of equipment that can help people work from home. GameStop primarily carries higher-end PC gaming accessories, not the more affordable and simpler tools that are most suitable for office work.

"That's absolutely ridiculous. If someone's trying to work from home, they don't want the $85 Razer keyboard we have or the $60 Razer mouse. Some cheap $20 Microsoft something is going to get them by just fine," said Dustin Carson, 31, a game adviser at a GameStop in Athens, Georgia. "They can get that at Walmart. They can get that at any of these other stores that also have groceries and are arguably much more essential to being open right now."

The Athens store opened on Friday morning, even though the county is under a shelter-in-place order.

Police went to the store Friday afternoon to order that it shut down. They showed GameStop employees an 11-page ordinance that included a list of essential businesses, which CNN Business viewed. GameStop was not listed as one of them. The store closed on Friday at around 4 pm ET and it is unclear if it will reopen Saturday. Athens' police department did not return a request for comment.

"Honestly, I'm relieved," said Carson, "No one needs to get sick or die over video games. They're not essential items."

As states and districts adopt new rules to counter COVID-19, GameStop said it would shift its approach: "We are complying with all state, county, city and local ordinances and we will continue to adjust to any future developments."

GameStop is struggling financially, going through considerable layoffs and closing stores. The pandemic could hurt the company because the bulk of its profit comes selling physical copies of the games.

"I never considered myself someone essential to a pandemic then, and I don't now," a GameStop shift manager in Illinois, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, told CNN Business.

The Illinois employee said their store made $4,000 in net sales on Sunday and Monday combined and "that is definitely out of the norm for this time of the year."

"I think I've cried every day since Monday... I'm trying not to cry in front of my staff," said a longtime current GameStop store leader in New Jersey, who didn't want to be identified for fear of being fired. "I feel very much like a pawn. It doesn't matter what the staff on the ground does. They're just expendable."

Employees had called for GameStop to shut its stores, even though it will hurt them financially.

One assistant store leader in California said "I had asked my manager if we should call local law enforcement to try to enforce the closure... [the request] died in the chain of command." He later added that his store has now closed as of Friday and that he does not expect to be paid beyond using up his vacation days.

Matthew, who asked to be identified by first name only, a longtime GameStop employee, worked in a New Jersey mall store he said recently closed because the governor mandated mall closures.

While most employees expressed they believe GameStop should close its stores during the pandemic, one keyholder in Virginia said, "I do believe that they should stay open. With unemployment buckling under the weight of the layoffs I can't see a way to earn income at this moment in time... I need this job."

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 420860

Reported Deaths: 32774
CountyConfirmedDeaths
New York City22783223580
Suffolk437861998
Nassau436552194
Westchester362051447
Rockland13942674
Orange11159491
Erie8904671
Monroe4956285
Dutchess4607153
Onondaga3576200
Albany2595128
Oneida2146115
Ulster206292
Niagara149898
Sullivan148948
Putnam144963
Broome112669
Schenectady105837
Rensselaer76530
Saratoga75717
Columbia54037
Madison41217
Ontario36034
Warren30833
Orleans29854
Steuben29842
Fulton29624
Greene29218
Genesee2775
Herkimer2744
St. Lawrence2634
Washington25914
Chautauqua2539
Oswego2533
Wayne2503
Tompkins2340
Chenango2166
Tioga19325
Livingston1768
Montgomery1764
Chemung1713
Cattaraugus1656
Cayuga1522
Jefferson1420
Clinton1274
Wyoming1185
Otsego1165
Delaware1054
Cortland950
Seneca893
Allegany791
Schoharie690
Yates577
Essex550
Franklin540
Lewis410
Schuyler220
Hamilton80
Unassigned00
Utica
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
Oneonta
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 68°
Herkimer
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 73°
Thendara
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 73°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Click here to learn more about A Healthier Mohawk Valley
Ask EPLC Sweepstakes
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve
Senior Send-Off brought to you by Herkimer College
WKTV Golf Card - Under 150 left