Workers board up businesses near the White House, Saturday, October 31, 2020, Washington, DC. Precautions are being made in case of violence on or after Election Day, Tuesday, November 3. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Business owners in multiple American cities say they're bracing for potential social unrest in the coming week.
This week the National Retail Federation hosted a video conference that included training for store employees on how to de-escalate tensions among customers, including those related to the election.
About 120 representatives from 60 retail brands attended the conference, and the trade group has also hired security consultants who have prepped retailers about which locations around the country are likely to experience unrest after the polls close.
Some retailers are pre-emptively boarding up stores and hiring overnight security guards in some locations, as well as making plans to close early on election day.
Tiffany & Company has said "windows of select stores in key cities will be boarded in anticipation of potential election-related activity," and Saks Fifth Avenue said it is "implementing additional security measures at certain locations in the event of civil unrest due to the current election."
NRF has cautioned members that boarding up businesses risks alienating customers, especially if projected vandalism or unrest fails to materialize.
"You are sending a message when you do that," Stephanie Martz, general counsel of the National Retail Federation, said. "You don't want to necessarily engage in this kind of grim forecasting."
Local business associations have also told reporters they're taking precautionary measures.
A spokesman for Chicago's Magnificent Mile Association said several businesses along the Michigan Avenue shopping district have boarded up their windows and have also partnered with the city to participate in an auxiliary command center on Election Day.
And in Beverly Hills, police have said they would take a "proactive approach" and close luxury businesses on Rodeo Drive, on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Walmart had originally announced it would remove guns and ammunition from the shelves in more than 2,000 stores in advance of Election Day, but the retailer changed direction Friday and began to replace the products on shelves, Bloomberg reported.
During this year's presidential campaign, President Donald Trump demurred when asked closed-ended questions about whether he would commit to peaceful transition of power should he lose the election, saying, "Well, we're going to have to see what happens."