Retailers are on the front lines of the both the battle against and ramifications from the COVID-19 pandemic.
We at Miller Zell applaud the many efforts we read and hear about from across the country and the globe, where retailers are trying to take care of their customers, associates and communities.
Whether it’s making donations to relevant causes, repurposing manufacturing facilities, using technology to support social distancing, creating exclusive hours for seniors and other at-risk groups or offering employees raises and other critical benefits, these efforts involve creativity, sacrifice and a belief in serving the greater good.
While not an exhaustive list, here are some notable initiatives that caught our attention:
- Citizens Bank committed $5 million to “support communities and businesses dealing with impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Lowe’s committed $25 million to support the emerging needs of its associates, customers and communities. That included a $10 million donation toward essential protective products to help keep medical professionals on the frontlines of this crisis healthy and safe.
- Staples is offering free print and marketing services, including complimentary support to restaurants shifting to takeout menus and free faxing for unemployment, insurance and medical documentation.
- The First National Bank of Central Texas is offering loan customers a two-month break from making payments with no fees for the deferral.
- A number of grocery stores are installing “sneeze guards” — plexiglass barriers — to protect people and products from contamination.
- CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid waived delivery fees on prescriptions so customers don’t have to leave home to obtain medications.
- Uber Eats is giving away free meals to healthcare workers and first responders.
- Chipotle is hosting daily “Chipotle Together” virtual lunchtime hangouts on meeting App Zoom.
- Nike has made its workout streaming service free to help people exercise at home. You can check out it out here.. Other fitness apps are doing the same thing.
- Harbor Freight is donating its entire supply of the personal protective equipment items to frontline hospitals with 24-hour emergency rooms in the communities served by its stores.
- Hyundai will cover payments for up to six months if you lose your job and defer payments for three months on select vehicles.
- Audible has offered free recorded books to children amid school closings.
- Dry Country Brewing Company and Old Forth Distillery in Atlanta — taking a cue from LVMH and Labatt — are brewing and distilling hand sanitizer instead of alcoholic beverages.
- Ford is working jointly with 3M and General Electric in an effort to boost ventilator and respirator production.
- Wayfair and Patagonia announced they would provide staff with paid time off during store closures.
- U-Haul is helping college students suddenly out of class by extending its 30 free days of free self-storage for new customers with a college ID.
- Microsoft will donate 240,000 surgical masks to help medical professionals.
- Gap Inc. is sourcing masks, gowns and scrubs from its factory partners for California hospitals.
- Canada Goose is reopening two manufacturing facilities in Canada to make scrubs and gowns for healthcare workers and patients.
Of course, this is not a complete list, as most retailers are making an effort to reach out to customers in new ways, both to meet their business needs and to help people navigate through uncertain, stressful times.
Thank you from Miller Zell. We believe in and celebrate your innovative solutions to retail challenges as well as corporate responsibility. We are proud to be among you.
To learn more about redefining retail environments during and after COVID-19, click here.
Editor's note: This story was published in March of 2020.