Citing ‘Essential’ Retail Status, GameStop Stores Remain Open

Key household goods during the pandemic include water, toilet paper … and video games.

GameStop, the nation’s largest video game retailer with more than 5,400 locations, is remaining open despite increased concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

In a revised update, GameStop March 19 said it is instituting multiple “social distancing” practices in stores, including allowing no than 10 customers in a stores at any given time. The chain is adopting CDC guidelines creating a six-foot parameter between customers in checkout lines.

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Store hours are being reduced from noon to 8 p.m., beginning March 21.
GameStop is rolling out door service to allow customers to pick up purchases at the front of U.S. store locations. It is also suspending temporarily in-store trades until March 29, and postponing all gaming events and midnight launch activities until further notice.

“The customer is at the core of everything we do, and in light of the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic, our top priority is keeping our customers, associates and communities safe as we continue to closely monitor the situation,” GameStop said in a memo on its website.

The PR blitz comes as media reports cited an internal memo to staff that suggested GameStop is an “essential” business during the virus pandemic.

“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,” read the memo as reported by

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GameStop’s push to remain open comes as it grapples with the fiscal challenges of consumers switching to digital, as well as a dearth of new hardware consoles. Industrywide software and hardware revenue has declined for seven consecutive months, according to The NPD Group.

GameStop Jan. 13 reported a 27.5% decline in sales for the nine-week holiday period ended Jan. 4, compared with the previous-year period. Total comparable store sales decreased 24.7%, following a 1.5% increase in comparable store sales for the similar period last year.

Regardless, GameStop said it is prepared to face the pandemic.

“We have assembled an internal COVID-19 taskforce dedicated solely to this issue and have instructed our associates to follow the procedures and guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help stem the spread of COVID-19,” the chain said.


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