Luxury stores apparently under the impression that enough people will go outside to start looting have been boarding up their stores in cities shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic.
Women’s Wear Daily reports that high-end stores in cities like Boston, San Francisco, and New York have emptied out cash registers and inventory in an apparent effort to protect their merchandise. Considering residents of those cities have been ordered to shelter in their homes to prevent the virus’s spread, this seems optimistic.
Indeed, WWD says looting hasn’t been a problem, probably because everyone’s so busy trying to stay alive:
While the coronavirus immobilized Seattle’s daily way of life before any other major American city, there have not been any incidents of retail theft or looting, according to Detective Patrick Michaud of the Seattle Police Department. In fact, crime reports dropped 30 percent recently due to a decrease in property crime — shoplifting, general theft and car prowl, he said. “This is not surprising given there are fewer people out and about. Also, there has been no significant change year-to-date in violent crime either,” Michaud said.
Not to mention that the fact that, as some local officials have pointed out, looting suggests a fundamental distrust of the populace in a moment in which we need to rely on one another:
Although looting was a problem after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, retailers there — where COVID-19 cases have been rapidly increasing — are said to be not overly worried about that. Quentin Messer Jr., president and ceo of the New Orleans Business Alliance, said locals are taking the stay-at-home order seriously. “We have a lot of concerns, but that one hasn’t emerged at least in New Orleans,” he said, referring to looting.
Making the point that people are fundamentally good and honest, Messer said, “They don’t want to hurt their neighbors any more than their neighbors are being hurt. In those places where there are stay-at-home orders, they just aren’t leaving home for anything. We all realize that we have to get through this together. I couldn’t be more gratified to be a New Orleanian or an American. We’re going to get through this.”
In general, stores have a bigger problem than potential and unlikely looting: the economy. Closures due to citywide shelter-in-place orders will hurt small businesses, and some will never reopen. Larger retailers, many of whom are already facing financial struggles due to online shopping and companies like Amazon, will experience even more of a decline now that store closures and mass unemployment mandate less shopping. The world is about to change.