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6 Ways Retailers Are Helping Communities During COVID-19 – NRF

The COVID-19 crisis has made it clear that nothing matters more than people. But even as businesses close stores to promote “social distancing” and protect public health, many are pledging to compensate workers with full pay and benefits.

Above and beyond these measures, retailers are stepping up to help the communities they serve in a time of unprecedented need. Companies are taking action to ensure people continue receiving the products and services they need to remain happy and healthy. 

Repurposing manufacturing facilities 

To reduce the spread of coronavirus, consumers have rushed to purchase household cleaning and medical supplies in large quantities, resulting in shortages. To bolster supply and keep shelves stocked, some retailers are repurposing their manufacturing facilities to produce items like hand sanitizer and face masks. 

LVMH is converting its French cosmetics factories into hand sanitizer producers for distribution to local hospitals, and U.S. distilleries from Oregon to Pennsylvania are giving away their own alcohol-based solutions. Clothing retail and manufacturer Los Angeles Apparel has offered up its workforce and facilities to create masks and other medical products for government agencies. 

Exclusive hours for at-risk groups 

Social distancing is especially important for people at a higher risk of getting sick, including seniors and those with underlying health concerns. Retailers like Albertsons, Big Lots, Dollar General, Target, Walmart, Whole Foods and more are reserving exclusive shopping hours for at-risk groups, alleviating stress for these customers and their loved ones. 

Adapting delivery 

Voluntarily and by government mandate, retailers are closing their doors in the interest of public safety. To maintain operations and normalcy for customers who still need food and other essentials, retailers and restaurants are adapting their pick-up and delivery options. 

WalgreensCVS and Rite Aid have waived delivery fees on prescriptions to help consumers avoid visiting stores for refills and new medications. Retailers like DICK’S Sporting Goods are offering contactless delivery and curbside pickup.

Double Zero Pizza, with locations in Venice, Calif., and New York City, announced that every order placed and delivered will be accompanied by a free roll of toilet paper. Los Angeles restaurant Guerrilla Tacos has created “emergency taco kits,” complete with ingredients needed for an at-home taco night as well as other basic items like toilet paper and eggs. 

Staying social 

Retailers don’t just sell products  they build communities and bring people together. To help people combat feelings of loneliness and isolation, retailers are offering resources to maintain social connections and goodwill. 

Chipotle is hosting daily “Chipotle Together” virtual lunchtime hangouts on meeting application Zoom with celebrity guests like Colton Underwood of “The Bachelor,” giving participants the chance to chat and ask questions. Neighborhood Goods is using its website to post memes, positive stories, in-home exercise and cooking classes, playlist and podcast recommendations, keeping communication open and upbeat with customers. The Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kan. is hosting book groups via video conference calls. 


As demonstrated in crises before, retail is moving quickly to donate food, money and other resources to hospitals and organizations working to prevent the spread of the virus and help those impacted by it.  

Apple is matching all employee donations two-to-one to support COVID-19 response efforts, while Williams Sonoma is tapping into its long-term partnership with No Kids Hungry to ensure kids receive meals during school closures. Chef and restaurant owner José Andrés is feeding cruise ship guests quarantined in California from the outbreak, and has transformed eight of his New York and Washington, D.C., restaurants into community kitchens for those struggling during the pandemic. Fast-casual chain Sweetgreen is dedicating outposts and teams to support medical workers on the front lines, delivering free salads and bowls to hospitals in the cities it serves.  

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