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The businesses that qualify as 'essential retail' are...

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The National Retail Federation wants the government to give national guidance on what type of retail businesses should stay open during the coronavirus pandemic.

In  a letter to President Trump and other government officials, the NRF said there is  a need for “clear national guidance”  to resolve questions caused by conflicting state and local orders that are triggering consumer, worker and business confusion, leading to “cascading negative impacts on communities across the country.” Read the letter here.

As an example, the NRF noted that several jurisdictions have overlooked the important role distribution centers and transportation logistic companies play in the retail industry. Also, some localities have determined that pet stores, which provide pet food and medicines, are not “essential” despite the millions of pet owners who need specialty supplies for their pet’s wellbeing.

In requesting that the Administration issue guidance to clarify “essential retail businesses” at a national level,  the NRF gave these recommendations: 

  • Grocery stores, convenience stores and other establishments engaged in the retail sale or provision of food, pet supply, big box stores, wholesale clubs, and any other retailer of household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). This includes stores that sell groceries and other non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences;
  • Local, regional and national transportation and delivery services, including but not limited to businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services directly to residences and mailing and shipping services;
  • Facilities supporting interstate delivery of goods, distribution centers, warehouse facilities and trucking and highway rest stops;
  • Pharmacy and healthcare services;
  • Convenience stores;
  • Agricultural and farm retail stores, often the only place to purchase livestock feed, and one of the few places first responders can obtain critical supplies;
  • Gas stations and auto supply stores, auto repair and related facilities;
  • Hardware and home improvement stores;
  • Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, if operating under rules for social distancing; and,
  • Retailers that supply other essential businesses and people working from home with the support or supplies necessary to operate (for example, electronics, telecommunication and mobile technology).

The NRF also asked that the CDC’s instructions to limit gatherings to less than 50 people be relaxed or exempted for large format grocery stores, big-box retail and wholesale clubs.

“Facilities with significant square footage can adequately accommodate more than 50 shoppers while effectively managing social distancing practices among customers and employees,” the letter stated.


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