Retailers Respond to Weekend Protests
Retail Dive | June 1, 2020
Over the weekend, several retail chains nationwide sustained damage during protests, some peaceful, some violent in response to the senseless police killings of Black Americans. Target and Nordstrom closed stores after locations were damaged, but focused their statements on support for the protestors' cause.
Target closed 2 Minneapolis locations, along with stores in Oakland, California, Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia until further notice. "We are a community in pain," CEO Brian Cornell wrote in a statement posted to the Target site. "That pain is not unique to the Twin Cities — it extends across America. The murder of George Floyd has unleashed the pent-up pain of years, as have the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We say their names and hold a too-long list of others in our hearts. As a Target team, we’ve huddled, we’ve consoled, we’ve witnessed horrific scenes similar to what’s playing out now and wept that not enough is changing. And as a team we’ve vowed to face pain with purpose."
Nordstrom closed all of its stores Sunday after 2 stores were damaged. The further closures come as the department store was preparing to reopen several locations as pandemic-related restrictions ease. In a letter to employees on the Nordstrom site, CEO Erik Nordstrom and President and Chief Brand Officer Pete Nordstrom, similarly mentioned the three recent victims by name and said in a statement that their "senseless deaths ... and too many others reflect the deeply ingrained racial prejudice and injustice that still exists in our communities today."
Shawn Grain Carter, professor of fashion business management at the Fashion Institute of Technology, described this as a time when these businesses must look to their core values rather than to marketing or public relations goals. Target and Nordstrom are leading by example. Staying neutral is no longer acceptable and that’s what the brands are learning the hard way.