Coronavirus Resources for Retailers

Updated information about COVID-19
Top Resources

The health and safety of customers and workers is retailers’ top priority. NRF is closely monitoring the situation around the COVID-19 pandemic, coordinating with government agencies, health experts and retailers as the situation continues to evolve.

NRF is addressing the supply chain implications as well as developments related to the spread of the virus globally and domestically. Please come back to this page for regular updates.

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    Operation Open Doors
    Guidance for retailers on reopening stores

    As retail businesses begin to open to employees and customers, Operation Open Doors will provide operational guidelines and considerations developed with input from hundreds of retail industry leaders convened by NRF. The effort prioritizes four functional areas for America’s retail sector:

    • health and safety
    • people and personnel
    • logistics and supply chain
    • litigation and liability
     

    The CARES ACT and Main Street Lending Program

    The CARES Act includes a number of provisions that NRF advocated for to benefit retailers, both directly and indirectly. 

    • A $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program providing forgivable Small Business Administration loans to retail businesses with under 500 employees, and a $500 billion program the Federal Reserve can use to provide $4.5 trillion in relief for larger retail companies.
    • An expansion of unemployment insurance for retail workers to 39 weeks instead of the usual 26; recipients will receive an extra $600 per week in addition to the standard amount in their states, payable immediately.
    • Relief for retail workers and consumers including one-time checks of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child.
    • Tax relief, including an estimated $15 billion from fixing the “retail glitch” in the 2017 tax reform law, the ability to “carry back” this year’s losses to profitable years and obtain a refund, an Employee Retention Tax Credit to encourage retail businesses to keep employees on the payroll, and expanded deduction of interest paid on retail business loans.

    The Federal Reserve developed the Main Street Lending Program to help credit flow to small and medium-sized businesses that were in sound financial condition before the pandemic.

    On April 30, the Federal Reserve Board announced it is expanding the scope and eligibility for the Main Street Lending Program. Learn more. 

    Learn how how to navigate the Main Street Loan Program and find more resources about the CARES Act.

    Latest updates

    Thursday, May 28: Today, the House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act (H.R. 6886).  The bill, sponsored by Representatives Chip Roy, R-Texas, and Dean Phillips, D-Minn., provides flexibility to the PPP by giving businesses up to 24 weeks to spend funds from the program and still have the Small Business Administration loans forgiven. It also reduces the requirement that 75 percent of the money be used on payroll to 60 percent, allowing more of the money to be spent on other expenses. NRF issued a press release earlier today in advance of the vote in support of the bill.

    Tuesday, May 26:  For small business owners seeking assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program, the Small Business Administration has updated resources including:

    More information is available at Treasury.gov/CARES and SBA.gov/PaycheckProtection.

    Thursday, May 21: NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay spoke with Neela Montgomery, CEO of Crate and Barrel, as part of the NRF Retail Leadership Series. Montgomery discussed how her team is maintaining the brand's creative energy right now as well as leaning into consumer-generated content. She also advised that a healthy dose of humility and agility are essential for leaders during this unpredictable time. A recording is available here

    The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the United States Secret Service (USSS) issued a joint alert urging Americans to be on the lookout for criminal fraud related to economic impact payments under the CARES Act. This includes fraudulent activity that uses coronavirus lures to steal personal and financial information, as well as the economic impact payments themselves.

    Wednesday, May 20: NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay appeared on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" to discuss recent retail activity, accelerated innovation and a roadmap to move our industry forward.

    The Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency released revised guidance on essential critical infrastructure workers during the COVID-19 response. It expands upon and clarifies several retail workforces that have been struggling with state and local restrictions.

    The CDC posted detailed guidelines for reopening businesses, schools and organizations: CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and the President's Plan for Opening America Up Again.

    NRF participated in a call with officials from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to share efforts retailers are taking to ensure the safety of their employees and customers as well as areas in which additional guidance would be helpful. 

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued two revised enforcement policies. Its updated enforcement plan indicates that OSHA will follow normal inspection procedures in low-risk industries and conduct on-site inspections in areas where community spread of COVID-19 has significantly decreased. OSHA also revised its previous enforcement policy for recording cases of coronavirus to require employers to record confirmed work-related cases.

    Tuesday, May 19: The Department of Treasury issued a press release noting the Department and the IRS are starting to send nearly 4 million Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) by prepaid debit card (EIP Card) instead of paper check. The EIP card can be used online, at ATMs or at any retail location where Visa is accepted.

    FEMA published a fact sheet titled "COVID-19 Pandemic: Supply Chain Expansion Line of Effort" highlighting public-private approaches to increase manufacturing production capacity of critical medical supplies. FEMA has also released state-by-state PPE data, which lists the funding and products allocated to states within FEMA regions as of May 14.

    Monday, May 18: NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay appeared on CBS News to discuss retailers' reopening plans and retail's impact on the economy.

    The CDC published the following tools to help leaders make decisions during the pandemic:

    Decision Tools for Schools and Childcare Programs:

    Decision Tools for Businesses and Workplaces:

    Decision Tool for Mass Transit

    Sunday, May 17: NRF's thank-you campaign ad appeared in the "Sustaining America" special edition of USA Today on page 89.

    Friday, May 15: In advance of next week's Banking Committee hearing on the progress of work authorized by the CARES Act, NRF sent a memo to the members of the committee to provide the retail sector's perspective on how the CARES Act Title IV programs have been structured. If your company expects to experience challenges utilizing the credit facilities provided under the CARES Act (notably the Primary and Secondary Corporate Credit Facilities and the Main Street Lending Program facilities), this is an opportunity to reach out to the Banking Committee members in your state and share your perspective.

    April retail sales figures were released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Given the current state of affairs, it's no surprise sales were down significantly. NRF's press release in response to April retail sales is available here.

    As part of Operation Open Doors, Seyfarth has prepared a 50-state survey of state-level public health reporting requirements identifying who is required to report COVID-19 cases, as well as the time frame that is required for reporting. The reference guide can be found here.

    NRF surveyed retailers to understand how they are preparing to reopen as stay-at-home mandates begin to lift. The results can be found here.

    Thursday, May 14: NRF is launching a thank-you campaign to recognize retailers, employees and customers for their collective efforts to keep our communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first thank-you ad will appear in the "Sustaining America" special edition of USA Today on Saturday, May 16.

    Tuesday, May 12: NRF is reviewing a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package proposed by House Democrats. A key priority for NRF is the inclusion of business liability protection in the next phase of COVID-19 relief. A one-page summary of the legislation is available here.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on proposed liability protection. The list of witnesses and webcast recording is available here.

    Monday, May 11: Forty state retail associations signed a joint association letter to Congress, organized by NRF and other national trade associations about the need for business liability protection related to the transmission of COVID-19. 

    As part of Operation Open Doors, here is an updated summary of federal, state and local governmental developments pertaining to loan forbearance and lease enforcement.

    NRF held the first virtual event in the NRF Retail Leadership Series featuring NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay and Mike George, president and CEO of Qurate Retail, Inc. and chairman of the NRF Board of Directors. The conversation focused on leadership during this difficult time, the challenge of adapting operations to ensure the safety of employees and customers, and how agility is the future of retail. A recording is available here.

    Friday, May 8: The IRS changed its previous position on treatment of health plan expenses under the employee retention credit. Now an employer with more than 100 employees that pays health plan expenses for an employee, but does not pay wages for that employee, can take the employee retention credit with respect to the health plan expenses. These changes are reflected in this IRS FAQ.

    For the latest global perspective on COVID-19 and the retail industry, read World Retail Congress' report, "The Retail World 2020 - Retailing In A Time Of Crisis" and watch NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay's recent interview with NRF's counterparts in Istanbul.

    Wednesday, May 6: NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay spoke with nearly 70 members of the House Republican Whip team about NRF's Operation Open Doors initiative and a phased approach to safely reopening the retail economy. He also discussed the retail industry's priorities for the next economic stimulus package.

    NRF sent a letter to Congressional leaders outlining our industry's needs in the next fiscal stimulus package and encouraging consideration of proposals including liability reform, business tax relief, rent forgiveness, Paycheck Protection Program enhancements, and pandemic risk insurance, among others.

    Monday, May 4: NRF hosted 220 brands for an informative webinar with PwC experts on screening methods, contact tracing and what to consider with data and privacy. A recording of the webinar is posted for NRF members in the Operation Open Doors online solution center.

    NRF updated the Operation Open Doors federal agency and state tracker pertaining to loan forbearance and lease enforcement. 

    The Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department posted an updated FAQ. OSHA released safety recommendations and guidance for restaurants and food and beverage vendors that are offering takeout or curbside pickup.

    Sunday, May 3: Seyfarth LLP has updated the Summary of Federal, State, and Local Governmental Developments Pertaining to Loan Forbearance and Lease Enforcement in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The latest updates are highlighted in the current version.

    Friday, May 1: This week, NRF launched a grassroots campaign called "Liquidity: The Single Biggest Issue Facing Retail" to urge Congress to help retailers access liquidity by modifying the net operating loss provision in the CARES Act. This will allow struggling retailers to cash out their 2020 operating losses sooner so they can stay in business until customers can safely return to stores. We encourage all retailers to contact Congress now on this critical issue and share NRF's action link with your networks.

    U.S. Department of Labor issues safety alert for restaurant, food and beverage businesses providing curbside pickup and takeout service. View more.

    Thursday, April 30: Earlier today, the Federal Reserve Board announced that it would be expanding the scope and eligibility for the Main Street Lending Program. This is the result of the significant feedback that the Fed received from businesses and individuals, including comments from NRF. NRF issued a press release welcoming the expansion of the program. Additional information can be viewed on the Fed's press release.

    The CDC will hold a private-sector conference call on Monday, May 4, at 4 p.m. ET. to provide an update on what CDC knows and what CDC is doing in response to this outbreak. Dr. Megin Nichols, CDC's COVID-19 Food Systems Workgroup Lead, will provide a broad overview of CDC's guidance and resources for the food industry. You can register for the call here.

    Monday, April 27: CDC will host its weekly private-sector conference call at 4 p.m. ET. Register for the call here

    The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and NRF released a Blueprint for Shopping Safe outlining a phased-in approach to reopening retail. The plan urges governors to issue uniform, statewide protocols for retailers to adopt as they reopen stores and work to keep employees and customers safe.

    Sunday, April 26: NRF has launched Operation Open Doors with a new online solution center. As retail businesses open to employees and customers, this effort will provide operational guidelines and considerations developed with input from hundreds of retail industry leaders convened by NRF. The Operation prioritizes four functional areas for America's retail sector: health and safety; people and personnel; logistics and supply chain; and litigation and liability. Read a letter announcing the program to the President, key administration officials and elected leaders.

    Seyfarth has updated its state tracker for Federal, State, and Local Governmental Developments Pertaining to Loan Forbearance and Lease Enforcement in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

    Friday, April 24: President Trump signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which will provide an additional $300 billion for Small Business Administration loans. SBA released new guidance on accessing the PPP in an updated FAQ, as well as a list of lenders participating by state. NRF issued a statement of support reinforcing how critical these additional funds are. 

    For the latest international perspective on the impact of COVID-19, the World Retail Congress released the second issue of "The Retail World 2020: Retailing In A Time Of Crisis."

    Tuesday, April 21: NRF called on Congress to pass legislation establishing a federal program that would help businesses obtain insurance coverage for pandemics modeled on a program for terrorism insurance established following 9/11.

    Monday, April 20: NRF issued a statement welcoming the Trump Administration’s announcement to delay the collection of import duties amid COVID-19 pandemic.

    NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay participated in a webinar with global retail industry leaders about the impact of COVID-19. The webinar was hosted by the Trust for Retailers & Retail Associates of India (TRAIN); a recording is available here.

    CDC hosted a private-sector stakeholder call with an update on the COVID-19 response. A recording will be available on CDC's website.

    Friday, April 17: NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay appeared on Fox News to discuss the impact of coronavirus on retail and the need for additional funds to support business owners. Watch here.

    Thursday, April 16: The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) small business relief fund ran out of money today. The $350 billion program exhausted its funding capacity in just two weeks and the Small Business Administration is no longer accepting new loan applications. Congress continues to negotiate how to replenish the funds but an imminent deal isn't expected. NRF is urging retailers to tell Congress to help small businesses that continue to face unprecedented hardships because of COVID-19 and appropriate additional funds to the PPP now

    NRF submitted the attached letter to the Federal Reserve and the department of the U.S. Treasury requesting an expansion of the eligibility criteria, longer loan duration, and higher loan limits for the Main Street Lending Program and the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility (“PMCCF”)—the two programs in which NRF members have expressed the most interest in. In the letter we make several recommendations based on retailer feedback received over the past several days.

    Wednesday, April 15: NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay participated in a call this morning on the initiation of the Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups on behalf of the retail industry. See NRF's statement here.

    Tuesday, April 14: NRF launched a grassroots campaign on the “3 Ways Congress Can Help Retail Now” to share the next wave of retail’s priorities with Congress to provide relief to retailers and our workforces. These priorities include:

    1. Increase funding to loan and financial assistance programs that help retailers of all sizes retain employees and remain solvent.
    2. Extend the Payment Protection Program (PPP) so it covers the worst months of the economic slowdown.
    3. Allow businesses with closed locations to use loans for rents and utilities.

    Please contact Congress today and share these priorities with your lawmakers and share NRF’s action link with your networks.

    Monday, April 13: CDC hosted a private-sector stakeholder call with an update on the COVID-19 response. 

    An increasing number of state and local authorities are requiring retailers to enforce orders for customers to wear face masks or other PPE. NRF sent a memo to State Retail Associations with talking points to address this issue with state and local authorities. Our main ask is that governments consider posting law enforcement outside essential retailers to enforce local orders. 

    Press releases and more 

    Retailers welcome Senate plan to expand Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility –  May 21

    April retail sales drop nearly twice as much as March during coronavirus pandemic – May 15

    Imports to see double-digit annual declines even as stores begin to reopen – May 8

    NRF chief economist: Recovery likely to come in 'fits and starts' – May 6

    Retailers welcome Federal Reserve expansion of Main Street Lending Program – Apr. 30

    NRF launches Operation Open Doors – Apr. 26

    Retailers call additional funding for small business loans 'important step on the path to recovery' – Apr. 23

    Retailers urge federal pandemic insurance program similar to 9/11 terrorism coverage – Apr. 21

    NRF statement on Administration’s tariff deferral announcement – Apr. 20

    National Retail Federation’s push for government-backed loans to aid retailers (Fox News) – Apr. 17

    Retail industry leaders inform President Trump’s advisory group on reopening the U.S. economy – Apr. 15

    Retailers welcome financial 'bridge to the other side' of pandemic but ask for more aid for larger businesses – Apr. 9

    Estimated March imports hit five-year low, declines expected to continue amid pandemic – Apr. 7

    The Retail World 2020: Retailing In A Time Of Crisis, Week 01 (World Retail Congress report) – Apr. 7

    NRF chief economist: Stopping the pandemic is first step to restoring sound economy – Apr. 1

    Retailers reeling from coronavirus pandemic (MSNBC) – Apr. 1

    National Retail Federation CEO on the coronavirus impact (CNBC) – Mar. 31

    Retailers commend U.S. House for swift approval of CARES Act – Mar. 27

    Retailers welcome bipartisan CARES Act to help businesses 'get through this turbulent time' – Mar. 25

    NRF President: Retail industry needs 'bridge' to restart economy (Fox Business) – Mar. 23

    Business groups send letter to White House calling for swift and flexible economic stabilization efforts - Mar. 21

    Retailer leaders issue statement on responsible shopping during COVID-19 pandemic - Mar. 15

    Retailers step up to support COVID-19 response - Mar. 13

    Coronavirus impact on imports expected to be larger and longer than previously expected – Mar. 9

    How retail feels about the coronavirus (CNBC) - Mar. 5

    COVID-19 Resources

      Economic recovery and loan resources

      State response

      Federal Response and Resources

      White House

      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

      Department of Labor

      Department of Homeland Security

      Department of Transportation

      Tracking Store Closures

      Multiple media outlets are tracking store closures.

      Environmental Protection Agency

      Companies hiring now

      See job opportunities for displaced workers and post your company's careers link for free.

      U.S. Food and Drug Administration

      U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

      U.S. Department of State

      Workplace and employment law

      NRF

      U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

      Department of Labor

      U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

      • Tip sheet on health coverage options for employers helping their employees understand their coverage options, which also provides multiple places employees can go to receive assistance in making health insurance decisions.
      • FAQ document with Marketplace information for businesses impacted by COVID-19

      Other employment law resources