Number of the Day
Why Retailers Are Boarding Up Stores for Election Week, by the Numbers
Nervous about the prospect of civil unrest during the election, store owners are taking protective measures
$30,000: That’s how much it could cost to buy barricades, upgrade security cameras, and take other steps to prepare a single store for potential unrest on and after Election Day, according to Bloomberg, citing an estimate from the facility management platform ServiceChannel. Major retailers from Tiffany to Nordstrom are taking steps to protect against possible election-related turmoil, in some cases boarding up stores, or preparing to do so quickly, on the nation’s most famous shopping stretches.
The 2020 election has seen unprecedented speculation about protests and even violence. And according to the New York Times, retailers have already endured an estimated $1 billion in losses this year from the nationwide unrest following the killing of George Floyd.
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Beverly Hills is closing down access to Rodeo Drive on Tuesday and Wednesday. And some individual stores — particularly higher-end retailers — are boarding up windows, adding barricades, upgrading security cameras, removing particularly valuable inventory, or hiring guards. In Chicago, Reuters reports, Magnificent Mile retailers like Gucci and Louis Vuitton are obscured by wood panels — and private security firm Pinkerton said its hiring is up by 50%. The owner of a company called Riot Glass told the news service that his firm is scrambling to install reinforced windows for “hundreds” of clients: “Everybody wants something done before the election.”
It’s a tricky decision for retailers, both because they don’t want to alienate customers by converting themselves into de facto fortresses, and because the pandemic has already cost billions in lost sales. But they’re not the only ones worried: Law enforcement agencies in several cities are expressing concern about confrontations and threats whirling around the most divisive election in generations. So the caution is understandable — we can only hope it proves unnecessary.