Coronavirus poses a challenge for retailers, staff and customers. To continue to deliver the best service for customers, while protecting their customers and staff, retailers are taking a range of actions. We will be providing a daily summary of actions taken by individual retailers in response to the developing situation.

27TH March 2020

Retailers

  • Asda has announced that it will provide full pay to colleagues who have been identified by Government as needing to self-isolate for 12 weeks and will offer fully paid leave to colleagues who are vulnerable – or are the carers of extremely vulnerable people. More information.
  • M&S is introducing an NHS and emergency services telephone banking hour from 18:00 – 19:00.
  • M&S has expanded the product range and increased the size of deliveries to their 46 hospital stores across the UK to ensure NHS teams have access to essential products.
  • Next has decided to temporarily close its online, warehousing and distribution operations and will not be taking any more online orders until further notice.
  • Iceland has updated its store opening hours and the vast majority will be open Monday – Friday between 09:00 and 17:00. Iceland will welcome NHS staff between 17:00 – 18:00, or during the final trading hour. Sunday trading hours will remain the same. Customers can check the Store Locator on their website for full details.
  • Iceland's The Food Warehouse has updated its store opening hours to 08:00 - 19:00 Monday - Saturday, with a designated slot for NHS workers between 07:00 - 08:00. Sunday trading hours will remain the same.
  • Iceland continues to provide priority hours for elderly and vulnerable people in some stores, however there have been some changes in line with the new opening hours and customer feedback. Customers are advised to check priority hours with their local store.
  • Iceland continues to offer exclusive hours for NHS staff. Unfortunately, no other customers will be admitted into stores during these hours. Customers will be asked to provide NHS ID upon arrival and will only accept card payments – preferably contactless – during these hours.
  • Iceland is limiting entry to stores and has issued an update to all customers, ensuring they keep a 2m distance from others whilst queuing and shopping – markers have been placed on the floor to support this.
  • Iceland is in the process of installing shield screens at checkouts in all stores and providing gloves, face masks and additional hand sanitisers to colleagues.
  • Iceland is working to maximise online delivery availability and continues to release new slots every day. The retailer has added a pop up to the online shopping website, enabling the elderly and the vulnerable to be prioritised.
  • SPAR have implemented a range of new social distancing measures to protect staff and customers, including making disposable gloves and paper towels available in stores and forecourts, closing every other till, encouraging the use of contactless, floor signage etc.

Government

    • Defra has launched its “Shop Safely” campaign which urges customers to follow advice in store and stay at least 2m away from others. More information.
    • Environment Secretary, George Eustice, has written an open thank you letter to the food and drink industry. More information.

26TH March 2020

Retailers

  • B&Q has moved to online only, making diy.com it’s primary store for a limited range of essential products to keep homes safe, warm and in working order. Orders are for a new contactless Click+Collect service and home delivery. All stores remain closed.
  • Co-op has introduced new, stricter measures to enforce social distancing in stores. The retailer has introduced a range of measures across its 2,600 stores including floor markers which will define a one metre distance throughout the store, in front of kiosks and two-metre spacing for customer queues.
  • Ebay to support SME trading by waiving the listing and selling fee for new businesses who register on their website.
  • Ebay is cracking down on sellers listing items at inflated prices and is banning anyone who isn’t pre-approved whitelisted vendors from selling facemasks and hand sanitiser.
  • M&S are asking customers not to return non-essential items to their stores as they focus on food operations. To support customers with this, they’ve extended their exchange and returns policy for full price Clothing & Home items to 90 days until further notice.
  • Sainsbury’s is limiting the number of people in their stores and at ATMs from today. Queuing systems will be set up outside stores where people must continue to abide by social distancing guidelines. They are also reducing numbers of checkouts in order to allow greater distance between customers. More information.

Government

  • The Scottish Government published new guidance for firms on social distancing on Wednesday. More information.

25TH March 2020

Retailers

    • Aldi has announced that store and distribution colleagues will receive a 10% bonus on hours worked, effective from 9 March 2020
    • Aldi will open between 09:30- 10.00 on Sundays (08:30-09:00 in Scotland) solely for key workers in the NHS, Police and Fire Service. Eligible customers will be able to take priority at checkouts when they open at 10:00
    • Aldi will pay any supplier with a turnover of less than £1m (which is more than 1,000 Aldi suppliers) immediately
    • Aldi is installing protective plastic screens and floor markers at checkouts to encourage social distancing, and to protect colleagues and customers
    • Aldi is encouraging customers to use contactless payment such as credit cards, Apple Pay and Android Pay, wherever possible, rather than using cash
    • Co-op will be reducing the opening hours of stores to encourage the message to stay at home and give colleagues the chance to re-stock.
    • DFS Group (including DFS, Dwell, Sofa Workshop and Sofology) closed their showrooms and factories and stopped all visits and deliveries to customers homes as of 23 March. The online channel remains open, but deliveries will not be resumed until the travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines are lifted
    • Iceland has made further updates to its store policies in order to further strengthen its health and safety measures. These include agreed limits of between 40-80 people in our stores, depending on the size of the store. Iceland is also encouraging 2m distancing in its stores via in-store radio announcements and posters, and further supporting this by closing every other checkout
    • Iceland is advising that one colleague only should be in store offices or staff rooms at any one time. Iceland has also provided posters to be used in colleague areas of the store, setting out advice on hygiene measures such as handwashing, store cleaning practices and daily washing of uniforms
    • M&S have temporarily closed their 31 outlet stores selling only clothing and home
    • M&S standalone food stores and food halls in larger stores remain open
    • M&S Bank branches in stores are temporarily closed, but there will be colleagues on hand to help customers who need support with deposits and payments

24TH March 2020

Retailers

  • B&Q announced they will temporarily close on Tuesday 24th March whilst they are working out the safest way to support communities in providing only essential products moving forwards. More information.
  • Debenhams announced that it will temporarily close all stores in the UK and ROI.
  • Greggs have temporarily closed all shops from Tuesday 24 March. Whilst shops will be temporarily closed, dedication to communities won’t stop. The retailer will continue to provide support to local communities by offering support for those in hardship through the Greggs Foundation.
  • M&S is expanding the product range and increasing the size of daily deliveries to all 46 hospital stores across the UK to help NHS workers access essential products. Throughout the week, a number of additional changes will be made including all stores to receive personal care items, a substantial increase of the meat & fish offer as well as fresh produce, and the team will also be introducing nutritious prepared meals to all stores that don’t currently have them.
  • Iceland has encouraged its customers to donate to the National Emergencies Trust by adding a donation banner to its website and social media channels. The National Emergencies Trust is raising vital funds for those affected by the Covid-19 crisis. More information.
  • Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation has donated £150,000 to Age UK to specifically support older people during the Covid-19 crisis. More information.
  • Next has closed all its stores, temporarily, until further notice, but remains open online, with free delivery to home.
  • Post Offices have been designated an essential retailer by the UK Government. The majority of its 11,500 branches remain open. If a branch must close as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus, the Postmaster can display a poster advising that it’s shut. Branch Finder.
  • The Perfume Shop ​closed its stores in the UK and ROI on Sunday 22 March; online remains open.
  • Waitrose has announced a set of new measures to help its customers shop safely and protect its Partners. These include limiting customer numbers, introducing ‘safe distance’ floor signage, ‘two metre Marshalls’ to help manage queues, protective screens at checkouts, additional security and are encouraging contactless shopping. More information.

Government and other announcements:

    • The Prime Minister announced the closure of all non-essential shops (and other premises) from yesterday evening. Essential shops include supermarkets, health shops, home and hardware shops, pet shops, corner shops, newsagents and more. More information.
    • BRC and UK Finance announced that the contactless card payment spending limit would be increased from £30 to £45, with rollout beginning on 1st April. More information.

23rd March 2020

Retailers

  • Aldi has launched a recruitment drive to hire 9,000 new workers, including roles in every one of its stores and distribution centres, to help keep the nation going in uncertain times. More information.
  • Aldi has announced new donations to some of its key charity partners and has set out further new measures to improve the availability of products in-store and to protect against the risks of infection. More information.
  • Ann Summers have closed all their retail stores (online still operating). All colleagues affected will remain on full pay until at least the end of April.
  • Asda will be donating £5m to their charity partners FareShare and the Trussell Trust, which will provide more than 4 million meals to families in food poverty, as well as giving more than 3000 charities access to free food over the next 3 months.
  • B&Q have introduced various new measures in all stores to support guidance around social distancing, and for colleagues’ and customers’ safety. The new measures include restricting the number of customers in the store at any one time and increasing in-store communication about respecting space, as well as adding visual ‘safe-space’ markings to help customers around the checkouts.
  • Co-op will donate £1.5m worth of food to FoodShare. Essential food products will be distributed to its 23 regional centres, which supports more than 11,000 charities and community groups, including food banks. More information.
  • Co-op are temporarily limiting purchases on certain products to maintain stocks and choice for all customers.
  • Co-op have taken immediate steps to help front-line colleagues follow all precautions advised by NHS and PHE and have built in additional working hours for store colleagues to undertake more frequent hand washing throughout the day. Additional hand sanitiser, antibacterial wipes and soap have been provided to all stores and they are all following upweighted, rigorous cleaning protocols of the store and all fixtures.
  • Co-op will fast track the recruitment of 5,000 store colleagues in a bid to provide temporary employment for hospitality workers who have lost their jobs. More information.
  • Co-op’s valued food and funeral colleagues have been recognised as key workers. As a convenience retailer, this decision helps Co-op to continue to serve local communities up and down the country and demonstrates the importance of funeral service workers who are committed to supporting families during a time of loss.
  • Co-op will prioritise their vulnerable customers and those that care for them between 08:00 and 09:00 Monday – Saturday and 10:00 – 11:00 on Sundays in all stores. Whilst Co-op are not closing their shops to other customers during this time, they would ask for their understanding as they prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable customers.
  • Costa Coffee will temporarily close all their stores from 5pm Monday 23 March. Where possible, Costa stores in hospitals will remain open and are currently providing free coffee to NHS workers. All 16,000 plus Costa Coffee team members who work in those stores that will be closed will be paid their full average weekly pay over eight weeks. More Information.
  • DFS Group (DFS, Sofology, Sofa Workshop and Dwell) is paying all employees in full for March and April, regardless of whether they are self-isolating or taking dependents leave, in order to safeguard employees and their families' health and wellbeing. The retailer is looking to see what further internal or governmental support is available beyond this.
  • John Lewis Partnership will temporarily shut all 50 shops as of close of business on Monday 23 March. Johnlewis.com will continue to operate as normal, alongside Waitrose shops and waitrose.com. The food halls within John Lewis Oxford Street and Waitrose shops which share premises with John Lewis space at Kingston, Ipswich, Stratford, Horsham, Basingstoke and Canary Wharf will remain open. More information.
  • John Lewis Partnership has launched a support fund to aid its Partners who are facing additional costs as a result of the pandemic; such as childcare costs. Partners are also being offered free meals at work. Yesterday it announced it is working with Age UK, FareShare, the Trussell Trust, Grocery Aid and Retail Trust - donating £75,000 initially to each of the five charities. More information.
  • McDonald’s UK & Ireland have decided to temporarily close all restaurants by 19:00 on Monday 23 March. More information.
  • Pret A Manger has temporarily closed all 400 UK shops, which came into effect on the evening of 21 March 2020. It has committed to paying all its UK employees 100% of their normal hours and pay throughout March and April. More information.
  • Primark has now temporarily shut all its UK stores, until further notice.
  • Starbucks began closing stores across the UK on 20 March as it continues to prioritise partner (employee) and customer safety. More information.
  • Waitrose & Partners shops will set aside a proportion of hard-to-find and essential products for NHS staff and will be available to collect at any time of day to help work around their shifts. NHS staff will also be given priority checkout service through either dedicated NHS checkouts, Partners opening new tills or moving workers to the front of the queue. In addition, John Lewis has responded to requests from NHS workers to make their breaks more comfortable and have donated items such as pillows, phone chargers, eye masks and hand cream, as well as 50,000 Easter treats, to hospitals. More information.

20th March 2020

Retailers

  • B&Q are paying colleagues who are self-isolating and are giving their colleagues who are over 70 years’ old, the option not to work and receive full pay
  • Co-op set to fast track recruitment of 5,000 store colleagues in a bid to provide temporary employment for hospitality workers who have lost their jobs. More info.
  • Ikea will close all 22 UK stores and smaller units from 6pm Friday. Online and fulfilment operations will continue. More info.
  • John Lewis & Partners suspended services that involve close contact between customers and Partners. This includes cafés, The Place To Eat and others that require skin contact, such as beauty counter treatments and bra-fitting. Nespresso and Kuoni will also be temporarily closing their concessions too.
  • M&S is implementing special shopping hours for the elderly and vulnerable and NHS/emergency workers. More info.
  • M&S is extending temporary purchasing restrictions to two items per customer on Frozen Foods, Homecare, Groceries and Eggs, and issuing guidance on freezing fresh food items. More info.
  • Sainsbury’s will give online customers who are over 70 years of age or have a disability priority access to online delivery slots. More info.
  • For any online Sainsbury’s customer who can travel to their stores, they will operate an expanded ‘click and collect’ service. Customers can place their order online as usual and pick it up from a collection point in the store car park. More info.
  • Sainsbury’s customers can buy a maximum of three of any grocery products and a maximum of two on the most popular products including toilet paper, soap and UHT milk. Some stores may introduce a lower maximum for some products, where they believe this will help more people to have access to the items that they need. More info.
  • Waitrose & Partners has introduced a dedicated shopping hour for the elderly, the vulnerable and those who look after them – this will be the first opening hour of the shop. More info.
  • Waitrose & Partners has set up a £1m Community Support Fund to help those in need in their local communities. More info.
  • Waitrose & Partners will temporarily close its cafés, self-serve coffee machines, wine bars, cookery schools and Wine Tasting at Home service to focus resource on meeting the current high demand.
  • Waitrose & Partners will set a limit of three of any specific grocery items, and a maximum of two packets of toilet roll per customer buying in its shops. Exclusions include fresh fruit and vegetables as well as Easter Confectionary, beers, wines, cider and spirits. 

Government

  • Defra have announced competition law is to be relaxed to allow supermarkets to work together to feed the nation. More info.
  • Defra also announced the relaxation on laws around drivers’ hours and are waiving the bag charge for online purchases. More info.

While the BRC cannot comment on specific actions, we may be able to comment on common actions by retailers aimed at supporting their customers.