NRF Urges State & Local Governments to Consult Retail Leaders Before Making COVID-19 Response Plans

Amid an evolving retail picture due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the National Retail Federation and Retail Industry Leaders Association are asking elected officials to keep retail leaders informed.

NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay and RILA president Brian Dodge penned a letter on Sunday addressed to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, chairman of the National Governors Association, and Rochester Hills, Mich. Mayor Bryan Barnett, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In the letter, Shay and Dodge ask government officials to consult with retail leaders as they develop plans for curtailing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“As state and local policymakers design strategies and plans to mitigate against the spread of COV-19, we encourage elected officials to make every attempt to reach out — in advance — to retail leaders to discuss recommendations on whether to close or curtail business operations,” the letter reads. “It is also important that, if a recommendation is made, it provides sufficient time for employers to craft and put in place contingency plans for employees and those impacted communities before it becomes effective. Advance notice and consultation with retail leaders can avoid causing disruption from consumers overwhelming stores and exhausting supplies quickly.”

Cities and states across the U.S. are closing schools, stores and services in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus, which causes the disease COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging public gatherings to be kept to 50 people or less. And a number of U.S. cities and states, including Washington state, Ohio, Massachusetts, Illinois, New York City and Los Angeles, have announced the temporary closing of all bars and restaurants, except for take-out services, as leaders try to curb COVID-19 transmissions.

At the same time, many big-name retailers have announced the temporary shuttering of all U.S. stores, among them Nike, Under Armour, Urban Outfitters and Patagonia.

These voluntary shutdowns — along with retailers lending their parking lots to drive-through testing and promoting delivery or curbside pickup options — demonstrate that companies will do what’s necessary to prevent the spread of the virus, according to Shay.

“This is an unprecedented situation that demands an ‘all hands-on deck’ approach, and community retailers are eager to do their part,” said the NRF chief in a statement. “Whatever the challenge, retailers have prepared in advance to serve the critical needs of their customers and employees. They can quickly and thoughtfully adjust a wide variety of practices, including supply chains, stores and policies impacting communities they serve.”

Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 169,000 people and killed over 6,500, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has nearly 3,800 confirmed cases of the virus, with more than 60 dead.

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