Updated: Nordstrom announced it has extended store closures "for at least one week, through April 5." Best Buy and GameStop have reversed decisions to stay open since this story was originally published and additional stores have cut hours. See the list below for the latest updates.
As normal everyday life grinds to a halt amid the coronavirus pandemic, some of the nation's biggest retailers have temporarily closed thousands of stores to help stem the spread of the virus.
Not everyone is deserting their posts. Grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies are keeping their doors open to help people stay stocked with essentials, though many are shortening store hours to clean and restock. Walmart, the world's largest brick-and-mortar retailer, shortened hours beginning Thursday, for the second time in less than a week.
Those stores are joined by office supply and home improvement chains which say they, too, provide essentials. Among the justifications: they provide products people – including first responders – need in a natural disaster. Others say they sell supplies that people need to work and school their children from home.
And then there are retailers like GameStop and Barnes & Noble, who, as of Thursday afternoon, were staying open with reduced hours and announced steps to implement social distancing. But public experts say these stores don't fulfill a critical need in the same way as pharmacies and home improvement stores.
“We have a very short window to prevent this crisis from turning into a catastrophe," said Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health expert at George Washington University. "So, it is the responsibility of every person to do their part to not do anything that's not essential." She said all non-essential stores should close to help stop the spread of the virus.
Dr. John Swartzberg, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, said stores providing essentials must remain open, but others should close.
“The more people interact with other people, the more the opportunity to spread,” he said. “Stores are a perfect place for viruses to transmit, especially when they are crowded."
Providing essentials during COVID-19 crisis
Walgreens stores nationwide have adjusted hours. Most locations, including 24-hour stores, will be open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. The drive-thru at 24-hour pharmacy locations will remain open for pick up of prescriptions and other select products. Competitor CVS wasn't making a similar move as of Thursday afternoon.
"We currently have no plans to close stores or alter hours of operation unless directed to do so," T.J. Crawford, CVS Health vice president, external affairs, said in a statement to USA TODAY.
Lowe's announced Friday that starting March 23, it was temporarily reducing hours and closing its nearly 2,000 stores at 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and at 7 p.m. on Sunday, the company said in a news release.
Rival Home Depot also is temporarily shortening hours and closing nightly at 6 p.m., spokeswoman Margaret Smith told USA TODAY, adding the retailer is "committed to keeping stores open just as we always do during times of crisis and natural disaster."
Staples and Best Buy also are staying open with shorter hours.
Staples said in a statement to USA TODAY that it plans to remain open "to support local communities in their new realities of working and learning from home."
Best Buy has reduced hours and, on March 23, will begin permitting a small number of customers into the store at a time and is working to enhance its curbside service, CEO Corie Barry said in a letter to customers.
"You are turning to us for help getting the technology that allows you to continue running a small business or shift your usual job from an office setting to your home," Barry said. "You are turning to us to help your children continue their education outside of their classroom."
On Thursday, GameStop took flak for comments made in an internal staff memo, obtained by gaming website Kotaku, that said officials believed the chain should be "classified as essential retail."
In a statement to USA TODAY on Thursday, the company said while it is best known for selling game and home entertainment systems, it also has a "wide array of products and devices that are important to facilitate remote work, distance learning, and virtual connectivity."
GameStop, which has 5,500 stores in 14 countries, said it was complying with state, county, city and local ordinances and would adjust to future developments.
"As millions of Americans face unprecedented challenges adapting to virtual learning, working and interaction, there is significant need for technology solutions and we are one of many providers of these products that are remaining open at this time," GameStop's statement said. "While there are many businesses and organizations far more critical than ours, we believe we can have a positive impact during this very challenging time."
Bed Bath & Beyond announced Thursday that it was temporarily closing 800, but plans to keep around 700 "essential" stores open with reduced hours.
Social distancing, curbside pickup
Curbside pickup is coming of age during the pandemic, both with restaurants and retailers.
While Dick's Sporting Goods closed all of its stores Wednesday, it will continue to offer curbside pickup for online orders. So will Nordstrom, which closed its department stores Tuesday.
GameStop is offering curbside delivery, only allowing 10 customers in stores at a time and creating a 6-foot parameter between customers in checkout lines, Gary Riding, the company's senior vice president of store operations, said in a statement to USA TODAY.
Riding said the gaming company has implemented the changes "so that we can be there for our customers as they are looking for sources of normalcy in their life during this stressful time.”
In an email to customers, Barnes & Noble asks customers to observe social distancing and understand "why we have removed the usual seating and similar furniture." Planned events through the end of April have also been canceled.
Tough decision: Stay open or close?
Sucharita Kodali, a retail analyst at Forrester, said closing stores is a tough decision and not everyone has "the ample margins of Apple to absorb store closures."
"For a store to turn out the lights on an entire chain overnight is drastic, disruptive and unprecedented – for customers, employees, suppliers and communities," Kodali said.
For nonessential businesses staying open, Kodali thinks there's a good chance they will be mandated to close in more states in the future.
"The downside, of course, is that they are accused of working against the social distancing norms now in place, and they would be considered bad corporate citizens," she said.
Neil Saunders, managing director of retail consultancy Global Data, put it bluntly.
"They probably want to remain open to make money," Saunders told USA TODAY, a move he said could be a mistake. "There is increasing pressure from staff and from the public for these kinds of retailers to justify why they are open." nu//
Deborah Newman, a bankruptcy lawyer with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, said the stores "staying open are concluding that the risks of closing now outweigh those of staying open." Yet Newman, who is based in New York, said this "will likely change as more and more stores decide to close, and more and more Americans choose to stay home.”
Beginning Tuesday, March 17, our first hour of operations will be dedicated to our senior shoppers. All stores will also close an hour earlier in order for employees to clean and restock shelves. Learn more about these change here: https://t.co/53rc2gMeVr— Dollar General (@DollarGeneral) March 17, 2020
We’re so proud of our Target teams working to keep stores open for guests during this challenging time. Read about our latest efforts, including new reduced store hours to add time for cleaning & restocking, & dedicated shopping time for vulnerable guests: https://t.co/8sAyrJ9e56— Target (@Target) March 17, 2020
Other stores with reduced hours
Barnes & Noble: In an email Wednesday, the bookseller said it "reducing operating hours in all stores, and are prepared to react quickly to decisions from local and national officials that impact our stores and cafés."
Big Lots: Stores are reserving first hour of each day for senior citizens and “those most vulnerable to this virus,” CEO Bruce Thorn said in an email to shoppers.
Conn's HomePlus: Stores are open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Costco: Starting March 30, stores will close at 6:30 p.m. and gas stations at 7.
CVS: Regular hours.
Dollar General: All stores dedicated first hour to senior shoppers; closing hour earlier than normal hours.
Lowe's: The home improvement store has temporarily reduced hours and closing its nearly 2,000 stores at 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and at 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Office Depot: Stores remain open.
Staples: Weekday hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Walgreens: Most locations, including 24-hour stores, will now be open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. until further notice, the company said in a news release. For stores with shorter operating hours than 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., visit the store locator for specific store and pharmacy hours. For locations with a 24-hour drive-thru pharmacy, the pharmacy drive-thru will remain open 24 hours. Pickup of other select products will also be available at drive-thru, the company said.
Coronavirus store closings: These retailers are temporarily closed
The following dates could change. Click here to learn more about why some reopening dates have already changed.
Aerie and American Eagle: The March 27 reopening estimate has been extended. "The company will continue to monitor guidance from government and health officials to determine when to re-open stores," the website notes.
Ann Taylor: Stores including Loft and outlet stores are closed through April 11, an extension from March 28.
Ashley Stewart: Stores are closed through March 29.
Athleta: Stores closed March 19.
AT&T: The company says that where "possible, we will keep at least one retail location open within a 20-mile radius in urban and suburban areas, and just over a 30-mile radius in rural areas." Use the store tracker at www.att.com/stores. Adjusted store hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time. All stores will be closed on Sundays, the company said.
Banana Republic: Stores closed March 19.
Bed Bath & Beyond: All stores are closed through April 3, a change from what the retailer originally announced when it said it would keep approximately 700 "essential" stores open with reduced hours.
Belk: Store closings were announced March 17.
Best Buy: Stores are closed but offering “contactless curbside service at all locations across the country where state or local laws allow,” the company announced noting “only employees will be allowed in the store.”
Build-A-Bear: Closed through April 2.
Calvin Klein: Stores closed until March 29.
Carter's: The company said it "expects to reopen its stores as local conditions permit."
Chico’s: Stores closed March 17.
Claire's: Stores closed March 17.
Coach: All stores will stay closed an "additional two weeks" through April 10.
Columbia Sportswear: Stores are closed March 16.
Crate & Barrel: All stores closed starting March 17.
Dick's Sporting Goods: Stores closed March 18 and the plan is to reopen April 2, the company posted at www.dickssportinggoods.com/s/covid-19updates. However, curbside pickup will be available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Disney: All U.S. stores closed starting March 17.
DSW: Stores closed March 17.
Five Below: Stores are closed "through at least March 31."
Foot Locker: Stores are closed through March 31.
Forever 21: Stores are closed "until further notice."
Fossil: Stores including outlet locations closed March 15 and "will reopen as soon as it is safe for our employees, guests, and the communities in which we serve."
GameStop: Starting Sunday, March 22, for all locations not already closed because of “state and local orders, GameStop will temporarily stop customer access to storefronts, processing orders on a digital only basis, moving to curbside pick-up at stores and eCommerce delivery only,” the company said in a statement.
Gap: Stores closed March 19.
Guess?, Inc.: Stores are closed "until further notice."
Half Price Books: Stores are closed but processing online orders.
Hallmark: All company-owned stores closed March 18 and were "projected to remain closed through April 1."
H&M: All stores are closed until April 2 "or further notice."
HomeGoods and Homesense: Stores closed March 19.
IKEA: The furniture chain has temporarily closed all of its U.S. stores.
J.C. Penney: Stores closed starting March 18 and expected to reopen April 2.
J.Crew: Stores are closed "until further notice."
J.Jill: Stores closed March 18.
Kate Spade: All stores will stay closed an "additional two weeks" through April 10.
Kirkland's: Stores closed March 19.
Kohl's: Stores will close 7 p.m. local time Thursday, March 19 and will remain closed through at least April 1.
Levi Strauss: All stores closed "until further notice," a change from March 27.
lululemon: All North America and European stores are closed through April 5, an extension from March 27.
Lush: All 258 Lush retail stores in the U.S. and Canada closed March 16.
MAC Cosmetics: Free-standing stores are temporarily closed.
Macy's: Stores will be closed through March 31.
Marshalls: Stores closed March 19.
Microsoft: All stores are closed.
Neiman Marcus: Stores including Last call are closed through March 31 "with the potential to be extended pending future evaluation of the situation."
Nike: Stores were scheduled to reopen March 27, but the athletic apparel company said "Nike owned and operated stores will remain temporarily closed in multiple countries around the world. Stores in select locations are open based on guidance from health and government authorities."
Nordstrom: Stores have been closed since March 17 and were expected to be closed for two weeks. On March 25, the department store chain announced "it will extend its temporary store closure for at least one week, through April 5."
Old Navy: Stores closed March 19.
Origins: Stores are temporarily closed.
Patagonia: Stores closed March 13.
Pier 1: The retailer says it will "follow the guidelines of government and health officials in determining when it will reopen its offices and planned go-forward stores, and looks forward to doing so as soon as possible."
Pottery Barn: Stores closed March 17 with a "plan to reopen April 2."
Ralph Lauren: Stores closed March 18.
Reebok: All Reebok-owned stores closed March 17.
REI: The company's 162 locations are closed "until further notice."
Ross: Stores are closed through April 3.
Saks Fifth Avenue: Stores, including Saks OFF 5TH locations, closed March 18.
Sierra: Stores closed starting March 19.
Sephora: Stores closed March 17 and expected to remain closed through April 3.
Shoe Carnival: Stores closed through April 2.
Skechers: The company announced it closed stores March 18.
Soma: Stores closed March 17.
Stuart Weitzman: All stores will stay closed an "additional two weeks" through April 10.
Tailored Brands: The company's brands, include Men's Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank, Moores Clothing for Men and K&G, are closed through "until at least May 4." The company previously expected to reopen March 28.
T.J. Maxx: Stores closed starting March 19.
T-Mobile: The company says 80% of stores are closed through at least March 31 and the remaining stores are operating on reduced hours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time.
Tommy Hilfiger: All stores are closed until March 29.
Tory Burch: All stores are temporarily closed.
Ulta Beauty: All stores will close starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 19 until at least March 31.
Under Armour: Stores are closed until April 4, an extension from March 28.
UNIQLO: Closed until further notice.
Urban Outfitters: The company's stores – including Anthropologie, Free People, Terrain and Urban Outfitters namesake stores – are closed "until further notice." Originally, the company, which was one of the first to close stores, said stores would be closed until at least March 28.
VF Corporation: Closed through April 5.
Warby Parker: Stores are now closed "until it is responsible to reopen," an extension from March 27.
West Elm: Stores closed March 17 with a "plan to reopen April 2."
White House Black Market: Stores closed March 17.
Williams-Sonoma: Stores closed March 17 with a "plan to reopen April 2."