Amazon, Target and Apple scale back business in cities hit hard by protests

Looter steals Target store as protesters clash with Oakland, California police on May 30, 2020, following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white policeman knelt on his neck for several minutes.

Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images

Major retailers across the country are temporarily closing their stores in areas hard hit by protests against police violence.

Target, Apple and Amazon Whole Foods are among the retailers who have announced that they will temporarily close stores or adjust store hours around citywide curfews. Some Apple, Target and Whole Foods stores were damaged by looting, with protests becoming violent in several cities in the United States.

In recent days, protests have broken out across the country after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of the Minneapolis police. Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who was filmed on his knees on Floyd’s neck before his death, was arrested on Friday and charged with murder. Anger in response to Floyd’s murder has led to clashes with police and looting in several cities.

The protests threaten to undermine plans by some retailers to reopen stores closed in the wake of the pandemic. For example, Apple had already closed about half of its 271 stores in the U.S. in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, although it reopened about 100 stores last week.

Here are some of the announcements that retailers have made so far regarding the store closings related to the protests:

Amazon

Whole Foods, which Amazon acquired for $ 13.7 billion in 2017, said Sunday it is temporarily closing or adjusting store hours at locations across the country.

Whole Foods stores near Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Chicago remain closed. The company’s Bryant Park store in New York was only opened for grocery delivery for several weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak, but the store ended online orders early following protests, A Whole Foods spokesperson told CNBC.

The spokesman said that Whole Foods was making sure that affected locations closed well before the start of a city-wide curfew so that store employees could return home safely. Minneapolis, Chicago and Los Angeles have all announced curfews this weekend which are expected to last until at least Monday morning.

Amazon also sent a notice to Flex drivers on Saturday evening advising them to stop delivering packages “immediately,” according to documents seen by CNBC. The notices were sent to drivers in nearly a dozen cities, including Minneapolis, Seattle, Los Angeles, Nashville and Miami.

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Cheeseman told CNBC, “We are monitoring the situation closely and in a few cities we have adjusted routes or reduced typical delivery operations to keep our teams safe.”

The news of the delivery changes was reported by Bloomberg.

Flex drivers are independent contractors from Amazon who use a mobile app to find package delivery jobs in their area. Drivers connect to the Flex app to sign up for shifts, known as “blocks,” which may relate to a range of Amazon services, such as Whole Foods, Prime Now, and AmazonFresh.

In the notice to Flex drivers, Amazon said it would close delivery locations “close to the activity” and reopen those locations when it confirmed it was safe.

“We are in close contact with local authorities and will continue to monitor the protests,” said the note. “We proactively monitor all postal codes in the region and redirect drivers to ensure the safety of the routes you take for deliveries.”

Some cities have also posted fewer blocks in the Flex app to accommodate citywide curfews. For example, in Miami, drivers were able to select blocks until 7:30 p.m., before 8:00 p.m. curfew, according to a separate document viewed by CNBC.

Target

Target announced on Saturday evening the temporary closure of 175 stores across the country due to ongoing protests.

The company, which operates 1,900 stores in the United States, has closed 71 stores in Minnesota and at least a dozen stores in California and New York. All Target employees affected by the store closings will be paid up to 14 days of scheduled hours, including Covid-19’s premium salary, the company said.

Employees can also work in other nearby target locations that remain open. While many stores closed during the coronavirus epidemic, Target and other retailers like Walmart and Whole Foods kept their stores open.

Some businesses have been looted and vandalized in cities across the United States as protests have turned violent, including in Target stores in Minneapolis and Oakland.

Target CEO Brian Cornell said in a post The company was supporting more than 200 “displaced” team members on Sunday by closing its Lake Street store in Minneapolis, “as well as other stores” that are damaged or in danger.

“As a Target team, we regrouped, we consoled each other, we witnessed horrible scenes similar to what is happening now and we cried that not enough is changing,” said Cornell. “And as a team, we have vowed to face the pain with determination.”

Apple

Apple has announced that it will not be opening many of its stores on Sunday due to the protests.

“With the health and safety of our teams in mind, we have decided to keep a number of our stores closed in the United States on Sunday,” the company said in a statement.

Apple has 271 stores in the United States and about half of them are already closed due to the pandemic. Last week, the company reopened about 100 stores in nearly 20 states in the United States.

Several Apple stores were vandalized and looted amid protests across the country, including in Minneapolis, Brooklyn, and Washington, D.C.

Walmart

Walmart said Sunday evening that it would close hundreds of stores nationwide, according to Wall Street newspaper.

Some Walmart stores have been physically damaged or looted amid protests that have turned violent. A Walmart spokesperson told the Journal that some of these problems occurred “in broad daylight” and, therefore, he took additional steps to keep associates safe.

Like Target, Walmart kept its stores open during the coronavirus pandemic. However, the company has cut store hours to allow for more cleaning and restocking, among other measures.

Walmart representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nike and Adidas

Nike is closing hundreds of stores in the United States, while Adidas is temporarily closing all of its stores in the United States, according to the Journal.

Adidas and Nike stores in Chicago and Manhattan were hit by looters during Saturday night’s protests.

Representatives from Nike and Adidas were not immediately available for comment.

– Josh Lipton of CNBC contributed to this report.

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