(Reuters) – This time last year, shoppers in Chicago's magnificent miles were waiting for Louis Vuitton to debut with his whimsical holiday window decorations. Now the same windows are hidden behind a wall of wood panels that are painted light orange.
Although still open to shoppers, stores such as Gucci, H&M and Nordstrom are also on board after looters targeted the city's famous retail area in the spring and summer. when protests gripped more than 100 American cities.
Because security experts warn that the US presidential election could trigger renewed concern, these stores remain clad in plywood as retailers try to keep real estate and employees safe in the event of a resurgence of street violence.
"You have to ask, 'Do we want to be safe? "" Said Andy, the owner of Vickie's nail salon. The Magnificent Mile store was broken into and robbed during the early morning chaos that broke out after the police shooting of a young black man in August.
Andy, who does not want to give his full name, has kept plywood on his windows ever since. He also puts a panel over the front door at closing time. "Let's see how things turn out after the election. If we do not feel safe, we must continue boarding every night.
Aon PLC, the world's largest insurance broker, told Reuters that the majority of retail customers surveyed are considering boarding stores because they are worried about looting. Aon CEO MaryAnne Burke said about 70% of these retail customers did so during protests in May and June.
Many retailers, including Gucci, H&M, Under Armor and Apple, declined to comment on their security plans. More than two dozen security consultants, insurers, contractors and store employees told Reuters that companies install reinforced glass, hire security guards or retain emergency crews who block and board buildings.
Dealers are on their way after raiders earlier this year. smashed windows, stole goods and sometimes set shops on fire, in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Portland and other American cities ̵
In its August 21 quarterly report, Foot Locker said it raised $ 18 million in costs from "recent social unrest." Looters are aimed at sneaker sellers like Foot Locker because their products are easy to carry and turn into cash.
After avoiding a commitment for several weeks, US President Donald Trump said last week that he would accept a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the November 3 presidential election to Democratic challenger Joe Biden. But President Trump has continued to make allegations of electoral fraud and cast doubt on electoral integrity.
Companies operating in the United States should anticipate the risk of social unrest and political violence in order to remain elevated before, during and after the upcoming presidential election, "Jonathan Wood, a senior analyst at Specialist Consultation Control Risks, wrote in a recent assessment.
"You would be foolish to think that the worst is over. We're all watching the news, ”said Bob Moraca, vice president of Rock Security Group and former vice president of loss prevention for the National Retail Federation.
Scaffolding supplier Starr Industries protected Apple's "Cube" entire glass store on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue behind heavy barricades and chain link fences on June 1st. It is now on standby for several companies with stores in the exclusive part of New York.
"Because of the election, they did worry that the same thing would happen," said Marian Bobelea, Starr's president. He would not say which companies retained emergency services.
Riot Glass founder Brad Campbell said the safety glass maker and a sister company that installs reinforced windows rushes to finish jobs in hundreds of U.S. stores.
"Everyone wants something done before the election," Campbell said.
Alumatec Pacific Products, which provides roller shutter doors used by large retailers, said  Meanwhile, private security guard provider Pinkerton said employment was up 50 percent in Chicago in the quarter.
Under Armor covered its Magnificent Mile store windows with clear protective film, he said. store manager Kyle Domzalski Reuters.
Meanwhile, Chicago police conduct response exercises and warn to increase security, said Police Superintendent David Brown.