Retailers Rising to the Challenge

Industry Steps Up During COVID-19 Crisis

The COVID-19 crisis is impacting communities across the US and beyond in unprecedented ways. Policymakers and businesses, at every level and across every sector of the economy, are working diligently to keep people safe and healthy and making sure individuals have what they need to navigate through this health pandemic.
Retailers prepare in advance for crisis circumstances like this so they can serve the critical needs of their customers by quickly and thoughtfully adjusting a wide variety of practices, including those related to their supply chains, stores, and employees. Families are counting on retailers right now and retailers are determined to be there for them. Below are examples of how leading retailers are stepping up to serve communities in need during this crisis.

CVS Health

CVS Health has joined forces with state governments in Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan and Rhode Island to help increase access to rapid COVID-19 testing. Since March through mid-April, the company has conducted approximately 35,000 COVID-19 tests.

Dollar General

Dollar General is providing all medical personnel, first responders and activated National Guardsmen with a 10 percent discount on qualifying purchases.

Gap Inc.


Lowe’s committed to helping community members hit hardest by COVID-19 through a $25 million philanthropic investment of product, funds and collaboration to meet the needs of associates and customers now and as the pandemic continues. This commitment includes $10 million in product to medical professionals on the frontlines and is delivering essential items like respirators and protective gear to hospitals nationwide. In addition, the company is giving $1.5 million to support the COVID-19 Response Fund and $500,000 to the American Red Cross. Lowe’s associates across the country are also finding ways to help others during the coronavirus pandemic – see those stories here.


Target and the Target Foundation will be giving $10 million to expand relief and assistance to team members, as well as local, national and global organizations responding to the pandemic. This includes $3 million that will support national nonprofits such as Feeding America and others, assisting with response and recovery for affected communities, as well as $1 million to support organizations such as UNICEF and others, helping provide critical medical equipment and supplies to regions around the world.

The Home Depot

As soon as hospitals made the public aware of shortages, The Home Depot redirected all shipments of N95 masks to be donated to hospitals, healthcare providers and first responders around the country. The Home Depot is donating millions of dollars in personal protective equipment (PPE) and other products and prioritizing fulfillment to hospitals, healthcare providers and first responders. The company has also been marshalling the resources of merchandising and supply chain teams to globally source quality products and expedite the availability of needed items.


Walgreens is working to facilitate and expand access to COVID-19 testing and is opening drive-thru coronavirus testing sites at stores. The company recently announced it was opening 15 testing sites in communities across the U.S., to facilitate tests for an additional 3,000 people  per day.


Albertsons Companies recently announced a $50 million commitment to hunger relief across the 2,200+ neighborhoods it serves in 34 states and the District of Columbia through its Nourishing Neighbors Community Relief campaign. The new cash commitment is in addition to the $3 million the company already pledged to its fundraiser for neighbors affected by the COVID-19 crisis.


Apple recently announced it has started designing and producing face shields to protect health care workers in the United States. The company is also donating 20 million masks.


H-E-B has launched a foodie-inspired pilot program to help restaurants throughout Texas during the coronavirus crisis. Through the partnerships, select H-E-B stores will sell ready-made meals from restaurant partners. All proceeds from the sales of these chef-prepared meals will go directly to the restaurants.


H&M is using its global supply chain to produce and distribute protective clothing for hospital and health care workers and has also donated $500,000 to a COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

HanesBrands Inc.

HanesBrands is retrofitting some of their facilities to produce medical masks, with plans produce 1.5 million masks weekly.


Honeywell is donating equipment to schools and medical facilities, increasing production of facemasks, and directing these resources to the most affected areas.

Joann Stores

All open JOANN locations have mask kits for adults and youth, and supplies are replenished daily. Customers are encouraged to bring their completed masks back to JOANN, and the company will donate them to hospitals and healthcare facilities in need. In addition, all open JOANN stores will serve as collection points for those making items in their homes. JOANN will also work with larger hospitals and medical facilities to secure materials such as fabric, elastic and clear vinyl – all materials in short supply at many facilities.
Joann and Neiman Marcus Group are also teaming up to make free masks, gowns and scrubs for medical personnel. The crafts retailer is sending material to the luxury department store operator’s alterations facilities for production.


Kohl’s announced a donation of $400,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee to support the services the organization provides to meet the needs of children and families impacted by the pandemic. 


Kroger set up a $10 million relief fund designed to boost pandemic response efforts throughout the country. The money will come from The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger/Zero Waste Foundation, and could help support local, state and national grant programs for pandemic response efforts. That foundation already has donated $6 million to nonprofits that are helping people make it through the pandemic and its problems, including making more free food available and working to check on isolated senior citizens.


LVMH will use its perfume production lines to start making hand sanitizer to protect people against the coronavirus outbreak.

New Balance

New Balance is turning over production in its Lawrence, Mass. manufacturing facility for the production of face masks. The company said it hopes to scale production using its other New England factories soon.


Working closely with health professionals at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Nike's innovation, manufacturing and product teams have come together to provide for an urgent need: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the form of full-face shields and powered, air-purifying respirator (PAPR) lenses to protect against the coronavirus (COVID-19). 


Nordstrom teamed up with Kaas Tailored to have members of its alterations teams in Washington, Oregon, Texas and California sew more than 100,000 masks that will be given back to Kaas for sanitization. They will then be distributed to Providence Health & Services.


Restaurant, hotel, and school closings have affected Florida’s produce farmers and southeastern dairies, resulting in good food going to waste. At the same time, Feeding America estimates 17.1 million people will experience food insecurity due to school closures and rising unemployment in the coming months. Publix began an initiative to purchase produce and milk directly from farmers, and donate it to Feeding America® member food banks in our communities. The initiative is expected to run for several weeks; they will donate 150,000 pounds of produce and 43,500 gallons of milk in the first week alone.

In addition, Publix Super Markets Charities has donated $2 million to Feeding America member food banks to date.

Qurate Retail Group

Qurate Retail Group commited $29 million to global COVID-19 relief efforts through $10 million for urgent needs in its communities worldwide and $19 million in emergency pay/benefits for its team. This includes plans to:

  • Provide financial grants through an Emergency Assistance Fund to support team members worldwide who are most impacted by COVID-19.
  • Conduct fundraising campaign with Meals on Wheels and No Kid Hungry to address rising hunger among seniors and children, supported by corporate matching program.
  • Build on 25-year commitment to cancer care and research by working with Cancer and Careers to ensure that a portion of the proceeds from this year’s Beauty with Benefits cause marketing campaign will be used to help the cancer community navigate COVID-19-related obstacles.
  • Support critical international organizations in heavily impacted areas, including the National Emergencies Trust in the U.K., the German Center for Infection Research, and leading Italian research universities.
  • Launch Small Business Spotlight initiative, in partnership with the National Retail Federation Foundation, to support and celebrate small businesses.
  • Provide inaugural corporate grant to Nest’s Personal Protective Equipment Purchase Initiative, helping artisan businesses survive by shifting production to high quality PPE.
  • Donate QVC and HSN airtime to run COVID-19 PSAs from the non-profit Ad Council.
  • Provide supplement benefits to team members to help offset healthcare costs associated with COVID-19.
  • Offer various additional pay and benefits for team members whose work is required to be done on-site.
  • Provide all on-site team members with the option to stay at home, supported by various pay and benefits not normally available to them.


Starbucks announced it will offer free coffee to front line responders through May 3. In addition, The Starbucks Foundation will donate $500,000 to support front-line responders, with equal donations to Direct Relief to support the delivery of personal protective equipment and essential medical items and to Operation Gratitude to deliver 50,000 care packages and handwritten letters to first responders and health care workers.

Starbucks is also launching a campaign to raise awareness amongst its customers about the growing food crisis and encouraging customers who are able to donate to give to Feeding America. The Starbucks Foundation has donated more than $1.25 million to organizations across the U.S. and Canada, including $1 million to Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund to support people facing hunger and the food banks who help them, as well as $200,000 (USD) to Food Banks Canada and $50,000 (USD) to Second Harvest in Canada to support critical food distribution and delivery services to local communities. To date, The Starbucks Foundation has donated over $5.5 million to support global COVID-19 response efforts.

Tractor Supply Company

Last week Tractor Supply announced a commitment of $2 million dollars including a donation of $500,000 to the existing Tractor Supply Employee Assistance Fund to assist our team members most impacted by COVID-19 and $1.5 million dollars for the establishment of the Tractor Supply Company Foundation, committed to the growth and development of rural areas with an initial focus on COVID-19 recovery efforts.


In partnership with the federal government, Walmart has started offering drive-thru coronavirus testing sites in parking lots of stores. In addition, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have committed $25 million to supporting organizations on the frontlines in the fight against the novel coronavirus, including $10 million directed to food banks, and school and senior meal programs. A $5 million grant will go to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, a program set up by the United Nations Foundation to support the World Health Organization (WHO) in the global effort to help countries prevent, detect and respond to the novel coronavirus.


In the United States, 3M expects to produce N95 respirators at a rate of 50 million per month in June, a 40 percent increase from current levels. The company is also maximizing production of a wide range of other products used in the COVID-19 response globally including hand sanitizers, disinfectants and filtration solutions as the pharmaceutical industry works to find a vaccine to fight the virus.
For more information about retailers’ efforts during the coronavirus pandemic, visit RILA’s COVID-19 Resources for Retailers page.

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