Ahead of a highly polarized Election Day, retailers and brands are gearing up for potential unrest by taking extra precautions at their stores across the country.
At major metropolitan cities, scores of big-name chains and small businesses have boarded up outposts and ramped up security or reduced their hours of operations in preparation for demonstrations and riots that could erupt ahead of, on or after Tuesday, when incumbent President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden face off.
In New York, department stores, luxury boutiques and specialty brands in shopping thoroughfares like the SoHo neighborhood and Madison Avenue — including Guess and American Eagle Outfitters, as well as Chanel, Dior and Gucci — have already made arrangements by boarding up their units.
At Saks Fifth Avenue’s storied location near Rockefeller Center, passersby will see windows fortified with plywood and can expect more personnel guarding the store.
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In a statement to FN, a spokesperson wrote, “Out of an abundance of caution, like many businesses, we are implementing additional security measures at certain locations in the event of civil unrest due to the current election… As always, the safety of our customers, associates, and communities, as well as the protection of our physical assets, is of utmost importance.”
Also in Manhattan, the Macy’s flagship in Herald Square and Bloomingdale’s outpost on 59th Street — both previously scheduled to go dark with window displays this week as the chains set up their annual holiday displays — are “implementing additional security measures.” A Macy’s spokesperson added that the same precaution will be taken at “several” of its units.
What’s more, Neiman Marcus, which has 38 stores in the United States, announced that it would close all of its outposts at 5 p.m. local time on Nov. 3. (Currently, all of its stores are expected to open at normal business hours on Nov. 4.) “Many local officials are recommending retailers take precautions, such as closing early, related to the upcoming election,” a spokesperson for Neiman Marcus Group told FN. “We may also adjust hours as needed over the next several days.”
Similarly on the West Coast, nationwide chains and high-end fashion houses have set up wooden boards to prevent any damage to stores. Brunello Cucinelli and Louis Vuitton, for instance, were among the boldface names in San Francisco to board up, while city officials in Los Angeles have put retail mecca Rodeo Drive on lockdown for two days beginning tomorrow.
In the country’s capital of Washington, D.C., stores just blocks away from the White House and in nearby neighborhoods like Georgetown have been covered in plywood in anticipation of Election Day. Abercrombie & Fitch and Nike are some of the brands that have taken those additional precautions.
Some businesses fear a possible repeat of the civil unrest that occurred over the summer in response to the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25. Thousands of retail storefronts in the Twin Cities, on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, in New York’s SoHo area and in downtown Los Angeles, among other cities, had been vandalized or looted during the protests.