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Windows Boarded-Up and Enhanced Security: Brace Retailers for Election

Nordstrom, the upscale department store chain, said it plans to build some of the 350 stores and hire additional security guards for Election Day on Tuesday. “The windows of selected stores in key cities will be opened to predict potential election-related activity,” said Tiffany & Company, a luxury jewelry maker. Saks Fifth Avenue said it was “taking additional security measures at certain locations in the event of civil unrest due to the current election”.

In Beverly Hills, police said they would take a “proactive approach” and shut down Rodeo Drive, a strip of popular luxury retailers, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with the reason likely to increase “protest activities”

;. Police, which work with private security firms, said they will also “full alarm” across Beverly Hills starting Halloween and continuing on election week.

The country is on the rise as the fierce presidential election is finally coming to an end, the latest hot spot in a tough year that includes a pandemic and widespread protests on social justice. Anxiety has risen over the months that the outcome of the election can lead to civil unrest, no matter who wins. In the retail industry, many companies aren’t simply worried about a possible mess – they’re planning for it.

To demonstrate how unstable the situation seemed to the industry, 120 representatives from 60 retail brands attended a video conference hosted by the National Retail Federation this week, including training for employees. on how to reduce stress among customers, including those involved in elections. The trade group also employs security advisers, who inform retailers in advance of which locations across the country are most likely to be the most volatile when polls end.

“I’m over 50 years old and I don’t think I’ll live to see this,” said Shane Fernett, who owns a contracting business in Colorado Springs. “You have read about this in third world countries, not in America.”

For the retail industry, 2020 is flooded with bankruptcies, store closures, and sales plummeting as tens of millions of Americans struggle with job loss due to the pandemic. Protests protesting police violence against black citizens took millions to the streets, demonstrations that in some cases could lead to looting and burning of shops in some cities. city. Concerns about the turmoil surrounding the election have been admired by President Trump, who declined to say whether he would agree to peacefully transfer power if he challenged the Democrats. of his, Joseph R. Biden Jr., won.

Protests flared again this week after Walter Wallace Jr., a Black man with a mental health problem who was carrying a knife, was killed by police in Philadelphia. That caused looting and clashes with police in parts of the city. Citing the civil unrest in Philadelphia, on Thursday, Walmart said it was removing all firearms and ammunition from sales floors across the country. On Friday, Walmart said it would return the gun to the sales floor, after it determined that the instability incidents were “still geographically isolated”.

This year, businesses have incurred at least $ 1 billion in insured losses from looting and vandalism largely due to the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May, according to one estimate. Insurance Information Institute, a cited industry group.

This is considered to be the most costly civil unrest in history, capable of overcoming the damage caused by the 1992 riots in Los Angeles and numerous civil rights protests in the late 1960s.

Keep up with the 2020 election

The situation in 2020 is compared to the protests of the 1960s, but Derek Hyra, an associate professor at the Public School at the American University, said the recent unrest has spread geographically, Affect more businesses.

“Most of the riots and arson in the 1960s happened within the geographic boundaries of low-income blacks,” said Hyra. “In the 2020 state of unrest, more happens in the affluent and downtown areas.

“It’s not just an urban America,” he added. “The demonstrations were in the suburbs, they were in the countryside.”

Protecting property from potential damage is not a simple decision. Retailers may risk alienating their customers by erecting plywood, especially if the anticipated uncertainty does not materialize.

Stephanie Martz, general counsel for the National Retail Federation, said: “You are sending a message about doing that. “You don’t want to necessarily participate in this kind of grim forecast.”

Some companies have not seized the opportunity – the iconic Macy’s site in Manhattan’s Herald Square hit shelves on Friday. But other big businesses are keeping their plans ambiguous.

Target, with approximately 1,900 stores, said in a statement, “Like many other businesses, we are taking precautions to ensure safety in our stores, including guidance for Store leaders on how to take care of their team. “

A CVS spokesperson, which operates nearly 10,000 stores, said: “Our local leadership team is empowered to take the steps they determine will best support our safety. our stores, employees and customers. This includes the option to select selected store locations ”.

Gap Inc., with more than 2,000 stores in North America, said it had “contingency plans for any problems that might arise and will continue to monitor the situation carefully and closely next week. next.”

Behind the scenes, however, many businesses are clearly preparing.

Tom Buiocchi, who runs an online platform called ServiceChannel, which connects retailers with local contractors in cities across the country, says more than 500 stores have made work orders to initiate or implement other protective measures prior to the election.

He said he had discussions this week with a group of luxury retailers who didn’t want to be the first to take any obvious precautions. “No one wants to be the only one living in the community; it may not have a brand, ”said Mr. Buiocchi.

Some retailers have debated whether building the board makes them a target. Others are taking steps like buying different screws for plywood from the ones they used in June, in the hopes of stopping looters with screw guns. Business up costs can range from a few hundred dollars to 31,000 dollars for large department stores with show windows.

For the stores that are open all night and the days of uncertainty that may follow, their workers will be left in a volatile situation again. Currently, retail employees face the risk of violence in trying to ensure that customers wear masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Election week could be more dangerous.

Martz, the group’s top attorney, said the training provided initially by the retail federation is intended to help workers alleviate stressful situations around masking by advising employees to communicate with Eyes are not threatening and speak with sympathy, said Ms. Martz, the group’s top attorney.

She admitted that there could be additional dangers for workers on Tuesday night as police could be pulled thin if there were to protest. “People are divided, and it’s such a box of money,” said Ms. Martz.

All is a clear reminder of how strained the country’s political situation is.

“Maybe in other countries, opposition and chaos are often understood around the transfer of power such as the election of a president or a prime minister,” said Professor Hyra of American University. But in the United States, “there is a clear understanding that we live in a democracy and that whoever wins the Electoral College, there will be a peaceful transfer of power.”

Mr. Fernett, a Colorado-based contractor, said he recently purchased a two-year supply of plywood and plywood for two years at the request of the nasty retailers.

He’s taking his own precautions. He removed his business name, Jack of All Trades, from the company’s truck and asked his technicians to work in pairs next week for their own safety.

“Our local lumberyard asked what was going on, why was there such a large order,” said Mr. Fernett. “I said, ‘We think all hell will disintegrate.’ That’s why we are stockpiling. I hope we don’t need to use it.

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