With the majority of states experiencing temporary closures of nonessential businesses amid the coronavirus outbreak, luxury retailers have been boarding up their storefronts in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and other major shopping areas.
Designer brands like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Jimmy Choo, Fendi, Sephora and others have started covering their windows in wooden boards in Manhattan neighborhoods like Soho, Times Square and Meatpacking, while L.A.'s Rodeo Drive has followed suit. The reason for this dramatic reaction is in preparation for possible looting, riots and civil unrest. After all, in 2018, high-end windows of retailers were smashed during the Yellow Vest protests in Paris.
Executive director of the Soho Broadway Initiative business improvement district Mark Dicus asked that storefronts avoid this and use other forms of protection such as hiring security.
"We're encouraging property owners and retailers to keep those storefronts untouched and to keep the lights on at night," Dicus said in a statement to the Real Deal. "We want to maintain a sense of normalcy and make sure our neighborhoods are safe. We feel there are ways to take care of that without resorting to drastic measures like boarding up storefronts."
Meanwhile, Sephora's landlord in NYC's Meatpacking District hired an artist to paint over the boards. The landlord, Aurora Capital Associates' principal Jared Epstein, posted on social media that his company won't let this pandemic and a citywide shutdown "create further gloom and doom at our properties."
These U.S. destinations aren't the only places nailing up plywood. Union Square in San Francisco and the Magnificent Mile in Chicago have also walled up their storefronts. However, this trend follows European cities like London and Milan, where the New York Times reported luxe merchandise is no longer visible. Harrods and Selfridges as well as Bond Street boutiques like Burberry and Chopard, have cleared jewels and other valuable items.
"Boarding up your storefront makes it so that people on the street can't see inside. That might be more appealing to those looking for break in opportunities," Dicus told the New York Times, adding that this method could add to neighbors' anxieties during an already stressful time.
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