Starting March 22, all GameStop stores located in the United States 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 company said in a statement on Saturday.
This news comes only a day after IGN originally reported that GameStop decided to close all California stores, following increased public scrutiny over their decision to consider themselves an “essential” business due to their selling of tech hardware like keyboards and webcams.
In a statement, the company said that the move to strictly curbside pickup and digital sales will allow them to still serve customers who have made orders on GameStop’s website or app and have requested a physical product pick-up at their local store.
In the statement, GameStop CEO George Sherman elaborates on the company’s position on COVID-19 public health regulations, which contrast sharply with what some GameStop employees have told IGN.
“Our priority has been and continues to be on the well-being of our employees, customers and business partners” Sherman stated. “We have been steadfast in our adherence to CDC-guided safety and local government orders for retailers in each of our communities.”
GameStop’s statement also says that the company has assured employees that they do not have to work if they are uncomfortable with it and should stay home if they feel sick. GameStop adds that they will “pay all U.S. employees whose hours have been eliminated an additional two weeks at their regular pay rate based on the average hours worked in the last 10 weeks” and that GameStop will reimburse all benefits-eligible employees their portion of benefit expenses.
Sherman’s statement contrasts sharply with what some GameStop employees have told IGN, with one employee saying: ““GameStop corporate is putting its employees at risk of COVID-19. They aren’t closing stores and they aren’t offering paid time off. They are still pushing their employees to advertise events at their stores that will draw crowds of people.”
Later, another GameStop employee who works in a city that recently issued orders to close all non-essential businesses reached out to IGN to express their own concerns.
“We are not getting cleaning supplies. But GameStop is still telling its guests we are getting them and cleaning high traffic surfaces,” the anonymous employee said.
In recent years, with video game purchases increasingly going digital, GameStop has long suffered to compete. The result has largely been overworked employees who are subjected to high levels of stress, and pressure from leadership on various levels to increase pre-order, trade-in, and phone purchases. The company has come up with increasingly elaborate ways to reinvent its image and attract a larger, more dedicated customer base, like redesigning some storefronts to be more social experiences, with couch co-op stations, tabletop gaming areas, retro gaming attractions, and stores with a greater focus on physical collectibles.
GameStop closed its statement by saying it will provide more details about its operations when it reports its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2019 results on March 26.
In the state of California, a recent order from Governor Gavin Newsom appeared to tighten restrictions on what could be deemed “essential services,” trimming it down to absolute necessities like food and supplies, which California GameStop stores to comply.
GameStop also previously canceled midnight release event plans for Doom Eternal and Animal Crossing in order to curb close contact between individuals.