Amid this difficult and uncertain time, many businesses are taking a stance to provide necessary service to the public while still protecting their employees as well as their customers. Even Wal-Mart has chosen to limit their hours so that employees have time to clean and restock. They’ve even begun offering an hour of shopping time dedicated to the most at risk population; those over 60. Many states have started to enforce closures of non essential businesses and are working to come up with a plan to ensure that small businesses have assistance to bounce back after this crisis subsides.
And then there is GameStop.
GameStop has laid their claim as an essential business and told employees to expect to continue working even in states that are mandating closures. Their reasoning? According to Kotaku, the company said in a memo “Due to the products we carry that enable and enhance our customers’ experience in working from home, we believe GameStop is classified as essential retail and therefore is able to remain open during this time.” What does GameStop sell that “enhances” working from home? According to GameStop those items are microphones, webcams, and keyboards. Now I don’t know about your GameStop, but I don’t think I’ve ever noticed those items. I’m not claiming they aren’t there, but they surely do not make up a large or even moderate percentage of the products they sell. GameStop has taken some steps that they believe will enhance the customer experience and limit exposure. Those steps include limiting stores to 10 customers, enhancing cleaning, and creating 6 feet distance between customers in checkout. To be fair, I don’t know that many of the stores I’ve been in can’t hold many more than 10 people – especially with 6 feet between each customer at checkout! Moreover, there are so many other stores offering exactly what GameStop claims to make it essential while also offering actual essentials (e.g. Walmart and Target) like groceries, paper products, and first aid items.
So why is GameStop really claiming they are essential? Well, we’ve all seen the news and the numbers. GameStop isn’t doing well. Even after purchasing ThinkGeek, GameStop continues to struggle financially, due in part to their flawed policies and overpriced items. I imagine a mass closing would be devestating for GameStop and be the final nail in the coffin for the niche store. On top of that, the next few weeks are filled with some highly anticipated titles including Animal Crossing: New Horizons (released today) and Doom (released yesterday).
This is irresponsible of GameStop on a crazy level. Not only are they putting their customers at risk, they are also putting their employees at risk. A source told Retreon Media that GameStops has regular policies on cleaning and sanitizing which, basically includes nothing. The source tells me that GameStop store employees generally only clean and sanitize the counter and register and there is no plan to close individual stores or do more thorough cleaning unless a confirmed case of COVID19 can be confirmed to have been in the store. Because that seems likely. In the meantime, GameStop plans to continue providing customers with things they don’t really need or could order online while potentially exposing employees that are underpaid and need the employment to this pandemic. Quit frankly, it’s shameful.
During a Podcast, the Retreon team talked about what we would do differently if we were in the shoes of CEOs and higher ups (you can find that Podcast here:
The conclusion? It’s too late for GameStop. There have been too many dropped balls and missed opportunities from focusing on things outside of games to poor customer service and extremely questionable policies.
Let’s see how long GameStop lasts now.
What are your thoughts?