Are Appliance Dealers ‘Essential’?

As the nation shifts to a war footing and individual states and municipalities move to close “non-essential” retail businesses, BrandSource dealers have been left in a quandary over their status.

So far grocery stores, supermarkets, gas stations, pet supply stores and pharmacies have generally been deemed “essential” and continue to operate within shelter-in-place localities. But in the absence of a designation by the federal government, appliance and electronics stores remain in the gray zone.

BrandSource President Tom Bennett reported that many locales have deemed appliance-only stores essential, as they provide life-sustaining products and services that are crucial to food safety, laundry sanitation and personal hygiene. Other regions, including Ohio and Pennsylvania, have not.

As Matthew Shay, President and CEO of the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail lobbying organization, noted in a letter to President Trump dated March 19, “There remains a need for clear national guidance to resolve questions caused by a number of conflicting state and local orders that are triggering consumer, worker and business confusion, leading to cascading negative impacts on communities across the country. Our members report that towns, cities and counties are deviating from instructions offered by governors and state agencies.”

Shay continued, “Families are counting on retailers right now and retailers are determined to be there for them. This is an unprecedented situation that demands an ‘all hands on deck’ approach, and retailers are eager to do their part … We request that your Administration issue guidance to clarify ‘essential retail businesses’ at a national level.”