Retailers have started to close down their online operations as well as physical stores in response to the coronavirus outbreak, citing concerns over the safety of their warehouse workers.
High street chains Next, Moss Bros and River Island have today temporarily closed their internet shopping services, despite government guidance that online retailers can continue to trade.
The brands were forced to close their bricks and mortar sites this week after the Prime Minister ordered the closure of all non-essential retailers, such as clothing stores. However, Next said it had decided to also shutter its online store following pressure from employees.
“It is clear that many increasingly feel they should be at home in the current climate.
Meanwhile, in a statement posted on its website, River Island said “The government has said online retailers can ‘operate normally’, but COVID-19 is serious and nothing feels normal at the moment.”
It added: “Right now, we need to put our people first and so we’ve made the difficult decision to temporarily close our distribution centre. “
Moss Bros said it has also made the decision to close its online operations to ensure its warehouse staff can stay at home.
Chief executive Brian Brick said: “The coronavirus epidemic is bigger than us as a business. As an employer we put our staff and their families safety first– and do the right thing by the community at large.”
Meanwhile, e-commerce giant Amazon is continuing to deliver but is prioritising essential items such as food, health, personal care products, books and working from home items, meaning delivery dates are delayed for other products.
Tom Ironside, director of business and regulation at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Many retailers are continuing online operations to ensure that consumers are able to get access to the products they need during the coronavirus lockdown.
“Safety of staff remains the highest priority and the operations at warehouses and online delivery hubs strictly adhere to Government guidelines on hygiene and social distancing.”