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E-Commerce Shutdown Announced by Leading Retailers

30 March 2020 - 11:55 by Graham Miller

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A growing number of companies that normally sell a variety of products via safe shopping online are choosing to press pause on their operations in response to the growing complications associated with coronavirus, according to Internet Retailing.

Outlets including Next and River Island have chosen to send workers home from warehouses and stop deliveries of goods to customers because of fears that this will increase the spread of the virus, with experts pointing out that fashion items are non-essential during this period of global crisis.

These closures are in contrast to government advice, which has previously been to encourage online shopping over high street visits to minimise the likelihood of members of the public coming in contact with the virus. Businesses seem to be taking the decision to stop selling online in addition to closing their high street outlets out of concern for their employees as well as their customers.

Another retailer which has taken similar precautions is TK Maxx. In addition to temporarily suspending online orders, it has announced that it has increased the returns window so that customers who are not able to take back purchases for a refund during the lockdown period will not be unfairly penalised.

Industry analysts are of course voicing fears that if this state of affairs persists for a protracted period, some retailers may simply be unable to reopen once the lockdown comes to an end. E-commerce orders had been seen as a lifeline for many retailers, although clearly as the extent of the threat posed by coronavirus becomes clear, companies are no longer willing to put workers at risk unless their services are deemed essential.

The already-embattled retail market will clearly take a huge hit from this pandemic, and further suspensions of online trading are anticipated in the coming days and weeks.