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

A looter rob a Target store as protesters face off against police in Oakland California on May 30, 2020, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white policeman kneeled on his neck for several minutes.

Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images

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

Target, Apple and Amazon-owned Whole Foods are among the retailers that announced they would shutter locations temporarily or adjust store hours around citywide curfews. Some Apple, Target and Whole Foods stores were damaged by looting, as demonstrations turned violent in several cities across the U.S. 

In recent days, protests have erupted nationwide over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police. On Friday, Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck before he died, was taken into custody and charged with murder. The anger in response to Floyd’s killing resulted in clashes with police and looting in several cities. 

The protests are likely to set back some retailers’ plans to reopen stores that were closed in the wake of the pandemic. For example, Apple had already shuttered about half of its 271 stores in the U.S. amid the coronavirus outbreak, though it reopened roughly 100 stores last week. 

Here are some of the announcements retailers have made so far regarding store closures tied to protests: 

Amazon

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

Whole Foods’ stores near Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Chicago all remain closed. The company’s Bryant Park store in New York City has only been open for grocery delivery for several weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak, but the store is ending online orders early as a result of protests, a Whole Foods spokesperson told CNBC. 

The spokesperson said Whole Foods is ensuring that affected locations close well ahead of when citywide curfews begin so that store associates can get home safely. Minneapolis, Chicago and Los Angeles all announced curfews this weekend that are expected to last at least through Monday morning. 

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

Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman told CNBC in a statement: “We are monitoring the situation closely and in a handful of cities we’ve adjusted routes or scaled back typical delivery operations to ensure the safety of our teams.”

News of the delivery changes was first reported by Bloomberg.

Flex drivers are independent contractors of Amazon that use a mobile app to find package delivery jobs in their area. Drivers log onto the Flex app to sign up for shifts, referred to as “blocks,” that may be for a range of Amazon services, such as Whole Foods, Prime Now and AmazonFresh orders. 

In the notice sent to Flex drivers, Amazon said it closed delivery locations “near the activity” and would reopen those locations when it has confirmed it is safe to do so. 

“We are in close contact with local officials and will continue to monitor the protests,” the notice said. “We are proactively monitoring every zip code in the area, and are re-routing drivers to ensure that routes you take for deliveries are safe.” 

Some cities also showed fewer blocks in the Flex app to accommodate citywide curfews. For example, in Miami, drivers were able to select blocks up until 7:30 p.m., ahead of the city’s 8 p.m. curfew, according to a separate document viewed by CNBC.  

Target 

Target announced late Saturday that it’s temporarily closing 175 stores across the country as a result of ongoing protests. 

The company, which operates 1,900 stores across the U.S., closed 71 stores in Minnesota and at least a dozen stores in California and New York. Any Target employees impacted by the store closures will be paid for up to 14 days of scheduled hours, including Covid-19 premium pay, the company said. 

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

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

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

“As a Target team, we’ve huddled, we’ve consoled, we’ve witnessed horrific scenes similar to what’s playing out now and wept that not enough is changing,” Cornell said. “And as a team we’ve vowed to face pain with purpose.” 

Apple 

Apple announced that it would not open many of its stores on Sunday due to the protests. 

“With the health and safety of our teams in mind, we’ve made the decision to keep a number of our stores in the US closed on Sunday,” the company said in a statement. 

Apple has 271 stores in the U.S. and about half of those are already closed because of the pandemic. Last week, the company reopened about 100 stores in nearly 20 states across the U.S.

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 it would close hundreds of stores nationwide, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Some Walmart stores were physically damaged or looted amid protests that turned violent. A Walmart spokesperson told the Journal that some of these issues occurred “in broad daylight” and, as a result, it was taking extra measures to keep associates safe. 

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

Representatives from Walmart didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Nike and Adidas

Nike is closing hundreds of locations across the U.S., while Adidas is temporarily closing all of its U.S. stores, according to the Journal. 

Adidas and Nike stores in Chicago and Manhattan were hit by looters during protests on Saturday evening. 

Representatives from Nike and Adidas weren’t immediately available for comment. 

— CNBC’s Josh Lipton contributed to this report.

Source: CNBC

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