The Drive-Thru: Mask drama, more bankruptcies, and everything else you need to know in retail this week


Happy Friday! This was another big week for bankruptcies, as well as a rough week for retail workers forced to face off against anti-mask customers.

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Here’s what you need to know this week.

The bankruptcies won’t stop


It was another week packed with bankruptcies including:

The pandemic played a significant role in all four bankruptcies. However, COVID can’t completely explain the companies’ financial troubles. People may have ditched “hard pants” and suits while in quarantine, but as Bethany and Madeline report both Lucky Brands and Brooks Brothers have struggled to stay relevant in recent years as trends shift.

To quote Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, on Brooks Brothers: “Its formal, old-school approach found favour among mature and more traditional demographics, but it has become increasingly out of step with a new generation of consumers who are looking for a more edgy approach to smart casual.”

You can keep track of the more than 20 retailers and restaurant companies that have filed for bankruptcy so far this year here.

Mask madness plagues retailers and restaurants


As BI’s science team reports, masks are crucial in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.But, convincing customers to wear masks is creating its own set of problems.

This week, I covered viral tantrums in stores like Costco and Target as customers refused to wear masks. Late last week, I spoke with a McDonald’s worker in California who was assaulted and had to go to the hospital. She told me she asked a customer to wear a mask, and he responded by grabbing and hitting her through the drive-thru window.

What are some solutions? Starbucks announced a national mask policy on Thursday, becoming the first restaurant chain to do so – and following in Costco’s footsteps. The chain is emphasising de-escalation and promoting other ways anti-mask customers can place orders, in an effort to avoid conflict.

But, some restaurants have decided the harassment is simply too much. Restaurants in states including Texas, California, and Michigan have announced plans to once again shutter dining rooms, blaming rude customers who refused to wear face coverings.

Read the full story on restaurants and masks here.

Whole Foods sends workers home over Black Lives Matter shirts


Whole Foods is facing backlash after sending workers home from a Milford, Connecticut store for wearing shirts printed with the phrase “racism has no place here.”

“We believe we are being targeted for speaking up about the injustices that are going on right now,” Graham Johnson, one of the reprimanded workers, told Hayley. “We’ve never had an issue with dress code at our store before now.”

The backlash in Connecticut is on top of the reports of almost daily protests at a store in Massachusetts over its dress code.

Read the full story here.

Corner stores attempt to address police violence


Irene wrote about a type of business that can have a direct impact on police brutality – corner stores that have often been sites of conflict and police violence. She talked with the Inner-city Muslim Action Network, or IMAN, about how the group tries to start conversations that make communities safer.

“We’re agitating storeowners to, in this moment, not be people who just self-identify as Muslim, but to really live that out in the way they practice their business, to be advocates for restorative justice in their neighbourhoods at a time like this,” said IMAN deputy director Shamar Hemphill.

Read the thoughtful piece here.

Inside the futuristic solar-powered McDonald’s that just opened at Disney World


Irene also took us inside the solar-powered McDonald’s that just opened in Disney. Disney World isn’t quite open yet, but the solar-powered McDonald’s is already open for drive-thru and delivery service.

The photos are fantastic – take a look here.

Everything else you need to know