Minneapolis — Minnesota-based discount retailer Target has temporarily closed six stores in four states in response to protests that turned violent over the weekend. The looting and destruction of commercial property took place in the days following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died May 25 following an encounter with Minneapolis police during which an officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes.
On Sunday, several other retailers, including CVS, Apple and Walmart also announced temporary closures or adjusted hours in major cities where rioting had taken place. None of these retailers specified which stores would be closed and for how long, only saying that the measures had been taken to protect customers and employees. Other cities imposed weekend curfews, and the City of Philadelphia ordered all retailers to close entirely on Sunday.
The National Retail Federation (NRF), a trade association representing the industry, issued a statement on Monday imploring Americans to cease defacing and plundering retail properties in the name of general welfare.
“Of primary concern to our retailers is the safety of their teams, the communities they serve and the emotional and physical well-being of their African American colleagues and customers,” said Matthew Shay, the organization’s president and CEO. “Retailers are committed to the values of diversity, inclusion and opportunity and that has always been at the heart of our industry. The actions of a few are impacting not just stores, but also putting at risk the people who work and shop there.”
On Sunday morning, Target released a statement saying that it would be closing about 100 stores in response to weekend violence, according to CNN. The company later amended that statement to reflect the closing of just six stores and the adjustment of operating hours at other locations.
The company’s store on Lake Street in its hometown of Minneapolis was most severely damaged and looted following the outbreak of violent protests in the state capital over the weekend. Additional stores that are closing include Broadway Oakland, Buckhead South Atlanta, South Loop Chicago, Uptown Minneapolis and Washington Square Philadelphia.
The Lake Street store is located within Minnehaha Center in the city’s Powderhorn neighborhood, about three miles from the site where George Floyd died.
Target CEO Brian Cornell told The Minneapolis Star-Tribune that on Saturday that the company was still taking stock of the damage to the store, which opened in that neighborhood in 1976. In a subsequent statement, Target said that it hopes to be able to reopen that store by the end of the year.
Cornell also said in the company statement that Target was working with displaced employees of its Lake Street store to ensure that all of those roughly 200 workers would receive full pay and benefits in the coming weeks. Cornell also pledged to provide “other resources and opportunities within Target” to these employees.
Lastly, Cornell said that Target would continue working to get essential supplies to residents in the area who may be depending on that store’s services.
“Our merchant and distribution teams are preparing truckloads of first aid equipment and medicine, bottled water, baby formula, diapers and other essentials, to help ensure that no one within the areas of heaviest damage and demonstration is cut off from needed supplies,” he said.
Target, founded in 1962, operates about 1,900 stores across the country and employs some 350,000 people. Its stores have remained opened during the COVID-19 pandemic as an essential retailer.
— Taylor Williams