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Retailers urge state and local leaders to coordinate COVID-19 response

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WASHINGTON — Retailers are asking state governors and mayors to reach out to retail leaders before issuing decisions to close or curtail retail business operations as they work to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

In a letter sent to Governor Larry Hogan, chairman of the National Governors Association and Mayor Bryan Barnett, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), and the National Retail Federation (NRF) asked elected officials to communicate and coordinate with retailers to provide certainty and clarity before making decisions on whether to close or curtail retail business operations.

“This is an unprecedented situation that demands an ‘all hands-on deck’ approach, and community retailers are eager to do their part,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation. “Whatever the challenge, retailers have prepared in advance to serve the critical needs of their customers and employees. They can quickly and thoughtfully adjust a wide variety of practices, including supply chains, stores, and policies impacting communities they serve.”

Advance notice and consultation with retail leaders can avoid causing disruption from consumers overwhelming stores and exhausting available supplies quickly. It will also enable retailers to prepare their supply chains to handle customer needs both before and after recommended, or even mandatory, store closing orders by government officials.

“Families are counting on retailers right now and retailers are determined to be there for them,” said RILA president Brian Dodge. “We encourage elected officials to make every attempt to communicate with retail leaders to discuss recommendations on whether to close or curtail business operations.  It is also important that, if a recommendation is made, it provides sufficient time for employers to craft and put in place contingency plans for employees and those impacted communities before it becomes effective.”


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