By Sarah Nassauer and Heather Haddon
Many retailers and restaurants, already crippled by the
coronavirus pandemic, are grappling with damage to their properties
and new closures following protests sparked by the death of George
Floyd that have sometimes turned violent.
From Minneapolis, where Mr. Floyd died while handcuffed and in
police custody, to California and Georgia, big and small retailers
and restaurants have shut locations in anticipation of violence or
are working to rebuild after destruction over the past week.
Target Corp., Walmart Inc., Nike Inc. and small family
businesses have collectively closed hundreds of locations or are
recovering from looting and physical damage related to protests.
Adidas said it was temporarily closing all its U.S. stores, while
Amazon.com Inc. said it had scaled back or adjusted delivery routes
in a handful of cities to protect employees.
Many executives and business owners expressed solidarity with
protesters, who object to broader issues of racism and social
Around a dozen Walmart stores have been damaged, with more
closed pre-emptively over the past few days. On Sunday evening,
Walmart closed several hundred stores throughout the country. The
damage so far has included looting and other property damage, but
no employees have been hurt, a Walmart spokesman said Sunday.
"What's disturbing over the last 24 hours is it isn't just at
night," the spokesman said. "We've even had issues this morning in
broad daylight. We want to make sure our associates are safe."
Walmart Chief Executive Doug McMillon said in a statement Friday
that "this week is further proof we must remain vigilant in
standing together against racism and discrimination."
Target Corp., which is based in Minneapolis, over the weekend
closed more than 200 U.S. stores, boarding up many of them
pre-emptively, said a spokesman. The situation is fast-moving and
some stores have reopened, in some cases with more limited hours,
the spokesman said.
Last week, a Target store in south Minneapolis on Lake Street
was one of the first U.S. businesses to be looted and badly
damaged. Around seven Target stores have been damaged around the
country, according to the company's website.
"Most of those stores have damage where we anticipate we can
open in the coming weeks, with the exception of the Lake Street
store," which Target aims to open by the end of the year, said the
spokesman. Store workers will be paid for up to 14 days during
store closures and can work at other locations, the company
"We are a community in pain," Target Chief Executive Brian
Cornell said in a statement Friday. "The murder of George Floyd has
unleashed the pent-up pain of years," he said.
Walmart and Target stores were open during the coronavirus
pandemic that forced thousands of retailers and restaurants to shut
in March and April, leading to millions of job losses.
Some of those businesses were just starting to reopen this month
as protests kicked off following Mr. Floyd's death during an
arrest. Authorities have charged one of the arresting Minneapolis
officers, Derek Chauvin, with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Mr. Chauvin was seen on video pressing his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck
while Mr. Floyd begged for help.
In some cities, smaller businesses bore the brunt of the damage.
In Minneapolis, a family-owned liquor store, an Indian restaurant,
a chiropractor and other businesses were left in rubble near the
closed Lake Street Target.
Cynthia Gerdes, co-founder of Hell's Kitchen in downtown
Minneapolis, shut down her 18-year-old restaurant because of the
coronavirus in March. She had drawn up plans to start offering
takeout in July, but is now weighing how Mr. Floyd's death and the
resulting unrest will impact the city's business and reputation
"It's a double whammy. It's a gut punch," said Ms. Gerdes, whose
business depends on conventions and office workers downtown.
Ms. Gerdes said her building near one of the city's main police
stations is now boarded up, with some windows smashed. She put up a
sign in her restaurant's windows supporting the protesters, but
wonders about how long the impact will last.
"It's just so surreal at this point," said Ms. Gerdes, who said
she was exploring options for her establishment and 138
Bob Grewal, a Subway franchisee and development agent for the
sandwich company in the Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., areas,
said one of the chain's stores in downtown Washington was looted
and had its windows smashed Saturday night. The store had just
begun to reopen with limited hours after being closed for the
"They were just starting back up. It's just horrible," he
Police arrested looters that had targeted another Subway
location in the hard-hit Fairfax District in Los Angeles on
Saturday night, Mr. Grewal said. That store had just invested in
food to get running again. Owners are contacting insurance
companies and assessing the damage now, he said.
"It's crazy. I was hoping to start opening back up. And then
this happens," he said.
"These business owners have nothing to do with this," Mr. Grewal
said. "They are suffering. The communities are suffering."
A Starbucks Corp. spokeswoman said that it closed some of its
stores Saturday for the safety of its workers after people damaged
a handful of locations.
McDonald's Corp. said Sunday that the burger company and its
franchisees closed a small number of restaurants temporarily and
are beginning to reopen them where safe.
"We are working closely with our franchisees to understand the
impact," the company said.
Joe Erlinger, the president of the U.S. division, said that he
was personally shaken by the unrest and planned to hold discussions
across the company about how to allow for diversity and
"Quite simply, I am appalled by recent events in Louisville,
Georgia, New York and Minneapolis," Mr. Erlinger said in a letter
over the weekend. "I feel shaken and I know many of you do, too. I
share your concerns, sadness, and anger.
Some Nike and Adidas stores in major U.S. cities were looted and
damaged in the protests. A Nike spokesman said employees weren't
harmed. The company, which previously made NFL
quarterback-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick the face of an
advertising campaign, launched a "Don't Do It" ad, offering a spin
on its popular catchphrase.
"For once, Don't Do It...Don't pretend there's not a problem in
America, " the company said in a film shared on Twitter on
Adidas retweeted its competitor's ad, along with the message:
"Together is how we move forward. Together is how we make a
--Khadeeja Safdar contributed to this article.
Write to Sarah Nassauer at email@example.com and Heather
Haddon at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 31, 2020 19:31 ET (23:31 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.