A growing number of retailers in the U.S. are furloughing their employees as the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the temporary closure of retail stores nationwide.
The store closures came as more people in the U.S. are forced to remain at home to help curtail the spread of COVID-19 by promoting social distancing.
The $2 trillion stimulus package to deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic that was signed by U.S. President Donald Trump into law last week provides incentives to companies avoid massive layoffs.
The stimulus offers tax breaks to these companies as they continue to provide health benefits to their workers despite not paying wages. Meanwhile, the workers will be able to tap the unemployment benefits that have received a boost from the stimulus package by $600 per week.
According to data compiled by Bloomberg, the number of furloughed employees at major U.S. chains now totals around 600,000, with more furloughs expected.
Retailers such as Gap, Macy’s and Kohl’s have said that they will furlough a majority of their workers this week and extend the duration of their temporary store closures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
On Tuesday, Urban Outfitters Inc. said it will furlough a substantial number of store, wholesale and home office employees for 60 days from April 1. The impacted employees will continue to receive enrolled benefits during the furlough period.
The company added that its retail stores will remain temporarily closed until further notice due to the continued spread of COVID-19.
Guess? Inc. said that starting April 2, it will furlough all of its U.S. and Canada store associates, about 50 percent of its U.S. and Canada corporate associates, and most of the associates at its distribution centers in the U.S. and Canada.
The apparel retailer added it will fund the health insurance premiums during the furlough for all eligible associates impacted by these measures.
Fashion retailer L Brands said from April 5, it will furlough most store associates as well as those who are not currently working to support the online businesses or who cannot work from home. All furloughed associates will continue to receive existing healthcare benefits.
Other companies that have recently announced furloughs include fashion retailers Nordstrom, Express Inc. and Steve Madden, shoe retailer Designer Brands, and Ascena Retail Group, the parent of Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant.
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