An increasing number of online retailers (including British e-commerce giant Next) close their webshop because of the coronacrisis. Is this just a prelude for worse things to come?
Even though physical stores are closed, many consumers have other things to worry about than funshopping. Moreover, the rules about social distancing make it almost impossible to keep distribution centres working at full pace. Despite the fact that they are still allowed to stay open - and profit from physical retailers' forced closure - ever more retailers are closing their online shop as well.
British fashion webshop Next is one of the more high-profile victims, and has decided to suspend all its activities due to the coronavirus. This decision is not to be seen on its own, however: it may have a profound influence on other retailers, as many companies - and the trade unions - see Next as a frontrunner in the sector.
"Next’s decision is likely to reverberate across the retail industry – and many warehouse workers at other retailers will question why they have not been furloughed to protect their safety", FashionUnited quotes GlobalData's UK Retail Research Director, Patrick O'Brien. He thinks other retailers will follow suit, unless they can find a way to keep their distribution centres open in a safe way.
Competitors like Net-A-Porter, River Island or TK Maxx, department store chain Fenwick and German Schuh have already closed their webshop. American L Brands (Victoria's Secret) accepts no new orders, saying it is now committed fully to selling soap and disinfecting handgel for its subsidiary Bath & Body Works. Outdoor brand Patagonia, too, closed its stores and online activities.