Store Closures in North America Begin as Coronavirus Spreads
Published on March 14, 2020
The list now includes Urban Outfitters, Patagonia, Everlane, Abercrombie, Glossier, Nike, Allbirds and Apple. Others have announced limited store hours.
The list of retailers temporarily closing stores or offering limited hours in North America keeps growing and now includes names like Urban Outfitters, Patagonia, Everlane, Lululemon, Apple, Glossier, Allbirds, Reformation, Buck Mason, Vuori Clothing, Abercrombie & Fitch, Walmart, Nike, Warby Parker, Lush Cosmetics and all three brands under the Tapestry umbrella.
On Saturday, Urban Outfitters said it was closing all stores worldwide. That includes stores in the Anthropologie, Free People, Terrain and bridal brand BHLDN divisions, in addition to the nameplate brand. (Urban Outfitters also operates subscription rental service Nuuly and a food and beverage business.)
“As far as we know, none of our employees have tested positive for COVID-19,” said a company statement. “In an effort to protect our communities, we have decided to close all of our stores around the globe. Stores will not reopen until at least March 28. We will continue to pay our store teams during this time. We will continue to operate our e-commerce and subscription businesses.”
In addition, the company’s corporate team will work from home. Those whose jobs do not allow them to work remotely will be divided into shifts “to reduce density at our corporate offices and create social distance,” the company said. “Because the situation is complex and evolving rapidly, our plans may change.”
In fact, it was only three days earlier that Urban Outfitters said in a statement that store traffic had significantly declined in Urban Outfitters’ Seattle and Milan stores, as well as “a few additional locations” in the last week. But the company gave no indication of store closures at that time.
“Due to the uncertainty around the spread of COVID-19 in North America and Europe, at this time, we cannot forecast the extent to which COVID-19 will impact our business in the first quarter,” the company said at the time.
Apple also released a statement this week saying that the company would close all stores outside of China until March 27. Stores in mainland China — which closed in February because of the coronavirus outbreak — have reopened and the supply chain in that part of the world has been restored, according to a statement from Apple’s chief executive officer Tim Cook.
“What we’ve learned together has helped us all develop the best practices that are assisting enormously in our global response,” Cook said. “One of those lessons is that the most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance. As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers.”
Apple said employees who cannot work remotely will continue to be paid in line with their normal hours. The company has also expanded its leave policy.
Men and women’s apparel retailer Everlane said Saturday that it would be closing all stores until March 28, effective Sunday, March 15. The online store will remain open and the retail associates will be compensated, according to the company.
Also this week, Rose Marcario, ceo and president of Patagonia, posted a note on the retailer’s web site saying that all company stores, offices and other operations, including the web site, would close at the end of the day Friday, March 13.
Patagonia, which has 37 stores around the U.S., said it would reevaluate the situation on March 27.
“As COVID-19 spreads — and is now officially a pandemic — we are taking additional safety measures to protect our employees and customers,” Marcario wrote.
The company said customers should check back on Monday, March 16, for an update on the e-commerce business. Meanwhile, Patagonia employees will work from home. Hourly workers unable to work remotely will continue to receive their regular pay.
Also working from home starting Friday, March 13, were members of athletic-apparel maker Lululemon’s Vancouver, British Columbia team. The Canadian retailer instituted a mandatory work-from-home policy as a “precautionary measure” after an employee in the company’s headquarters started showing signs of COVID-19. Employees in Vancouver will continue to work remotely through Friday, March 20.
On Friday, Lululemon ceo Calvin McDonald took to Twitter to announce limited store hours for all North American Lululemon locations starting the week of March 16. But by Sunday the ceo had amended that decision, instead opting to close all stores in Europe and North America from March 16 to March 27.
The company confirmed that all employees would be paid for all of the hours they were originally scheduled to work. The retailer also set up a Global Relief Pay plan to help any employees who are “battling the virus, need time to self-quarantine or find their lives disrupted during this unusual time in our lives,” according to a statement from Lululemon’s executive vice president of Americas and global guest innovation Celeste Burgoyne.
Lululemon said it will also be suspending in-store events, such as yoga classes and run clubs, at North American stores, effective immediately. Instead, the company will be offering digital meditation sessions and workout classes. The online business and mobile app will also remain open.
Abercrombie said it will close all stores outside of the Asian-Pacific region for two weeks, starting in North America on March 15 and the Middle East and Africa on March 16. Stores are scheduled to reopen in both regions on March 28. Abercrombie’s online shop will remain open and store associates will continue to receive pay, the company confirmed.
Under Armour’s North American stores will also remain closed until March 28. Other temporary store closures will be made “on a country-by-country basis as necessary,” according to a company statement.
Walmart said it would reduce its store hours starting Sunday, March 15 until further notice: now from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. According to a company statement the reduced hours are to help store associates restock products and clean stores. The big box retailer has more than 4,700 stores across the nation, many of them operating 24 hours.
On Sunday, Nike posted on its web site that all stores in North America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand will close Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27. The online shop and Nike apps will remain open. The company also said it’s letting employees in Nike facilities work from home when possible.
Earlier this month, Jide Zeitlin, ceo of Tapestry, parent company to Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman, told WWD that he wasn’t sure if the company would need to close stores in North America because of the virus. But as of Sunday, the company said all three brands would have shortened operating hours, open from noon to 7 p.m. on weekdays, with some differences by location, through March 27.
The retailer also temporarily closed stores in China during the month of February because of the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, across the pond, the outbreak continues in Europe. Governments in both Italy and France have called for the closure of all non-essential businesses, while Spain is officially on lockdown. U.S. President Donald Trump, who declared a state of emergency on Friday, tested negative for the coronavirus.