Amid lengthened measures to keep COVID-19 from spreading, some of the country’s biggest retail chains have been forced to put workers on a leave of absence. Staffers at companies including Gap, Macy’s and Kohl’s have been notified that they would be laid off for a time, the Financial Times reported.
Ascena Retail, the parent company of Ann Taylor, reportedly said that all staff workers would go on leave. Gap said pay would be “paused” for most Canada and U.S. store staffers as its retail locations stay shuttered. Gap CEO Sonia Syngal said, per the report, “We are intensely focused on welcoming back our store teams and customers as soon as we are able.”
Macy’s has put most of its labor force on furlough. The retail chain said it plans “to bring colleagues back on a staggered basis as business resumes.” And Kohl’s has put most retail location and distribution center workers on leave, in addition to some corporate office workers.
The furloughs are the newest setback for U.S. workers, as moves to keep people at home to stop the coronavirus’ spread have brought multiple sectors – including restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues – to a halt. Unemployment claims in the country reportedly skyrocketed to the most in one week since records started in 1967.
Retailers worldwide are closing their doors and cutting back on their hours to help curtail COVID-19. The closings are meant to promote social distancing, which is the act of decreasing person-to-person contact to slow the disease’s spread.
Each person who is infected is estimated to spread the virus to an average of two to three others. As reported on March 18, Macy’s, H&M, Nordstrom and Sephora have shuttered all locations. It was also noted at the time that Apple was keeping all stores shuttered until further notice.