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Industry Mar 28, 2020 16 min read

Coronavirus daily updates – how retailers are responding to the COVID-19 crisis

As retailers continue to work through the impacts of this pandemic, transparency through communications and announcements are paramount to preserving customer relations.

coronavirus

As retailers continue to work through the impacts of this pandemic, transparency through communications and announcements are paramount to preserving customer relations.

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Saturday – March 28th so far…

Retailers extend store closures

  • Burberry email consumers showing their efforts to fight COVID-19; using their network to fast track the delivery of surgical masks, repurposing their trench coat factory in Yorkshire to make non-surgical gowns and masks, funding research for a vaccine and donating to charities
  • Nordstrom extend store closures until 5th April, they also promote online services and tell readers about efforts to fight the pandemic
  • Columbia extend all North America brick and mortar store closures until 10th April
  • Ganni tailor the outfit edits in its latest email to the current situation with ‘shoes to dance around your living room in,’ ‘loungewear for FaceTime and snack break’ and ‘love on top: bright knitwear to bring some energy to your Hangouts’
  • Country Road are closing all Australian stores from 28th March, and Politix and Trenery from the 29th
  • Love Bonito in Indonesia communicates store closures until 9th April
  • Habitat promotes storage and tips to ‘conquer the clutter’
  • Jennifer Behr shares hair ideas to try over the weekend, encouraging customers to ‘do something that makes you feel good, no matter how small’

Further announcements & in the news:

  • In the UK the number of deaths rise to over 1000 while there have been over 600,000 cases globally – the US has had the most cases

Friday – March 27th

Further online closures & brands step up socials

  • 478 retailers mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • Net-a-Porter, Paul Smith, TK MAXX and Next close online operations
  • Reformation partner with the City of LA to make masks – these are available to buy or to donate.
  • Gucci emails consumers informing them of two donations they are making; €1 million each to the National Protezione Civil Department in Italy and the United Nation’s Foundation COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
  • Bandier will be donating a portion of every online sale to United Way’s COVID-19 Recovery Fund for the rest of the month

Further announcements & in the news:

  • UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirm they have coronavirus. Johnson will still be in charge of the government’s handling of the pandemic from self-isolation in Downing Street
  • Russia starts to shut down despite not succumbing to the epidemic with Vladimir Putin bringing in a non-working week
  • In Style, Glamour and ELLE are some of the publications that feature medical workers as cover stars
  • Further music festivals are canceled including Lovebox and All Points East
  • The Chelsea Flower Show has been canceled
  • Kylie Jenner donates $1m to help workers on the frontline while Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande donate cheques to fans with financial hardships
  • Selfridges start #KindnessChallenge campaign, urging followers to take part in a ‘Good Deed Feed’ by tagging their acts of kindness with @theofficialselfridges
  • In aid of helping support COVID-19 relief efforts, Rothys ask Instagram followers for ‘great ideas for something we can create in our factory?’
  • Paris Men’s Fashion Weeks in June and Couture have been canceled, as has Resort in New York. Milan Men’s Fashion Week is now set to be held at the same time as Women’s in September and New York Men’s has been postponed

Thursday – March 26th

Retailers begin closing online stores while others step up to produce safety supplies

  • 374 retailers mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • Moschino will donate 15% of every purchase to the Local Health Unit of Romagna and Humanities Clinical Institute of Milan
  • Cue Clothing is closing down all its stores beginning 27th March while online stores are remaining open
  • River Island announced to consumers today that in addition to closing its stores, it will also temporarily shut down its distribution center and pause the shipping of online orders
  • Ann Taylor is encouraging customers to share their WFH looks using the hashtag #ThisIsAnn
  • Good American is offering 30% off and giving a portion of proceeds to Baby2Baby, an organization providing basic necessities to families in need
  • Revolve, Mango and Lacoste are the latest to join the list of retailers donating masks in the fight against coronavirus
  • Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter have suspended their US eCommerce platforms citing ‘temporary changes to delivery routes’ as the reason behind the move
  • UK retailers Next and Moss Bros have also stopped accepting online orders ‘until further notice’

Further announcements & in the news:

  • The Indianapolis 500 is the latest major event to announce its postponement.
  • Ralph Lauren has pledged $10 million to provide financial grants for colleagues in need, contribute to the World Health Organization Solidarity Response Fund and gift $1 million to the CFDA’s A Common Thread initiative, among other things
  • Several US retailers are extending store open dates further into April and May including Coach, Men’s Warehouse and Abercrombie & Fitch
  • Virtual shopping platform, Streetify, is offering its services complimentary for one year to retailers in the US, Canada, UK, India and Australia, providing free digital storefronts
  • adidas will introduce free access to its Training and Running apps, complete with at-home workouts and nutrition guides
  • Crocs is joining Allbirds as the latest retailer to donate shoes to healthcare workers, pledging 10,000 pairs a day
  • China is expected to close its borders to most foreigners starting Saturday amid growing concerns of rising cases

Wednesday – March 25th

Australian retail starts to take action, trends outside of loungewear and spreading love

  • 374 retailers mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • Free People US – shines a light on accessories promoting ‘outfit-complimenting jewelry for all those video calls.’
  • Reformation promotes dresses in its latest email with the message ‘one day we will be walking down the street again without sweatpants’
  • Topshop also paused loungewear communications with 100+ dresses from £15
  • While the Australian government has not yet ordered shopping centers and stores to close, retailers started taking action. Zimmerman elected to shutter all its locations while brands owned by the Factory X Group, including Gorman, Alannah Hill and Princess Highway, followed suit.
  • Victoria Beckham announces 20% of sales from victoriabeckham.com and victoriabeckhambeauty.com will be donated to Feeding America in the US and the Trussell Trust in the UK
  • Blush Lingerie’s UK email encourages customers ‘we all deserve something sweet during these difficult time – come on, treat yourself’
  • Ami FR states it will donate 10% of all worldwide purchases made on amiparis.com to WHO’s COVID-19 Response Fund on a regular basis until the end of the isolation period in France
  • Anya Hindmarch uses gifting to help spread the love with an email including candles and diffusers ‘to send to someone struggling to put a smile on their face’

Further announcements & in the news:

  • The White House reaches a deal of $2 Trillion for the coronavirus stimulus package, which will provide financial aid to Americans by expanding unemployment insurance, offer loans to businesses of all sizes and provide resources to help caregivers
  • Prince Charles tests positive for coronavirus with mild symptoms ‘but otherwise remains in good health’
  • The world’s largest coronavirus lockdown begins today with India’s population of 1.3 billion told to stay at home
  • New Zealand goes into a month-long lockdown
  • Lady Gaga postpones her new album Chromatica originally set for release on 10th of April
  • Canada Goose announced it would start to manufacture medical gear for health care workers with shipments ready for hospitals across Canada next week
  • PrettyLittleThing CEO, Umar Kamani, will donate an entire month’s salary to struggling small businesses
  • ASOS has paused several incoming Spring 20 deliveries from suppliers and third-party brands to adjust its inventory
  • Instagram launches the ‘stay home story’ as well as additional updates to the platform, such as more educational resources in the source bar and removing COVID-19 accounts unless posted by a credible health organization.
  • TikTok pledges to donate $10 million to the WHO’s Solidarity Response Fund

Tuesday – March 24h

Lifting spirits and staying open online

  • 342 retailers mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • Reminders that online stores are open round the clock
  • Levi’s kick off 501 Live, a free month-long virtual music festival streamed on Instagram each weeknight, with Snoop Dog
  • Retailers use positive words in messaging. ‘brighten up your day’ used at Strand Bags, Topshop and ‘here’s a little sunshine’ at Joules
  • Baukjen extends discounts to NHS staff, teachers, social workers, police, therapists and transport workers and reminds those in the UK to ‘Clap for our Carers’ at 8pm on Thursday March 26th. Allbirds also give thanks to the NHS and offer medical workers a free pair of shoes

Further announcements & in the news:

  • Maximum spend on contactless payments will rise to £45 in the UK from April 1st
  • The Tokyo 2020 Olympics games will move and take place no later than summer 2021
  • Prada has become the latest luxury brand to start making medical masks
  • New Balance pledges to donate $2 million to coronavirus-related efforts
  • While it’s still unclear if the Met Gala will go ahead, the ‘About Time’ exhibition is postponed until October
  • Vogue and the CFDA announce ‘A Common Thread,’ – a fundraising initiative to provide relief to US fashion businesses impacted by COVID-19
  • After intending to remain open, Sports Direct has temporarily shuttered its bricks-and-mortar stores
  • In addition to its donation to coronavirus-related efforts, Estée Lauder is reopening its factory in Melville NY to manufacture hand sanitizer

Monday – March 23rd

Working from home emails step-up a gear

  • 277 retailers mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • Store closure announcements from Peacocks, APC, Belk and more
  • Mango’s newsletter states that some physical stores may be affected by temporary closures or changes to opening hours until further notice
  • WFH content emails sent from Need Supply Co, Zalora and Jigsaw. Good American offer 25% off select styles from their work from home edit
  • Bandier promotes ‘this week’s IGTV lineup’ of exercise, including a link to ‘shop the WFH edit
  • Jeffery Campbell UK shared how its staff members keep calm at home
  • Boohoo UK advertised a hoodie with ‘please wash your hands 2020’ emblazoned on the back which sold out immediately
  • Precious Little One UK communicated self-isolation tips for pregnant women and parents
  • Coach US’s email shared the responses to its ‘what brings you joy’ Instagram post from last week.
  • John Lewis’ sent out a homewares email including a shopping edit linked to the overarching theme of ’10 ways to rediscover life’s simple pleasures at home’

Further announcements & in the news:

  • The Tokyo Olympics is now postponed – the new date is currently TBC
  • Executives from the largest US clothing brands and department stores request a stimulus package from the United States government
  • Kurt Geiger boss Neil Clifford is suspending his salary for a year as shops shut temporarily as well as giving NHS workers a 50% discount on reopening and paying shop staff so they can volunteer their time to charities
  • Graduate Fashion Week in the UK is now canceled
  • Fashion retailers cancel nearly $1.5 billion in orders in Bangladesh, impacting as many as 1.2 million workers
  • Estée Lauder donates $2 million to coronavirus relief efforts
  • Australian swimwear retailer Tigerlily fell into administration, saying the outbreak attributed to a loss in sales

Sunday – March 22nd

Keeping consumers entertained plus further communication to stay at home

  • 267 retailers mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • Claire’s US temporarily close its online fulfillment center – any orders placed on Friday Mar 20 5pm will not be shipped until early April
  • To help alleviate boredom, Outdoor Voices round up its favorite internet content of the week to share with customers
  • La Redoute shares #stayathome in its communications and give customers the option of having parcels left at their doors to minimize contact when collecting online deliveries.
  • Selfridges Sunday email includes classic board games like monopoly alongside newer hi-tech gadgets
  • Ganni Instagrammed a ‘Home is Where the Heart is Creative Challenge’ asking followers to create something related to the theme for a chance to win a gift card worth €1500.
  • Sundae School’s email states it’s ‘not another COVID-19 email. It’s a stream of consciousness’ and shares its new drop as well as engages with consumers to share the number of hours they’ve spent on at-home activities to win virtual zines.
  • Primark UK stores closing until further notice

Further announcements & in the news:

  • The Australian Retailers Association called on the Prime Minister to distribute a rescue package to assist businesses struggling due to COVID-19
  • Saint Laurent and Balenciaga are to start manufacturing face masks, while parent company Kering said it would also give 3 million surgical masks to the French health service.
  • Boris Johnson says special steps must be taken to protect 1.5m vulnerable people in the UK
  • People not to meet in groups bigger than two in Germany outside of work and home

Saturday – March 21st

UK stores shutter, further community efforts and self-isolation survival guides.

  • 313 retailers mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • Retailers such as Cath Kidston, New Look, H&M, Phase Eight communicate the temporary closure of their UK locations
  • Target AU keeps stores opens and introduces Contactless Click & Collect as well as an extended return policy
  • Bandier US and Birkenstock IT and ES advise customers of possible shipping delays due to coronavirus while Wakakuu EU and Savage X Fenty reassures that deliveries are arriving on time
  • NOAH US shares breathing exercises and tips on managing anxiety while The Idle Man UK’s email includes a self-isolation survival guide
  • Reserved PL and parent company LPP pledge to donate 1 million PLN to the purchase of masks for hospitals in Poland under the campaign launch #ReservedForUS
  • Marks & Spencer UK reserve the first hour of trade on Mondays and Thursdays for the elderly and vulnerable as well as kick start the Neighborly Community Fund
  • WFH wardrobes continue – Lou & Grey US communicate ‘your coziest life uniform,’ and Superbalist ZA send a ‘self care Saturday’ shopping edit
  • DVF communicate its ‘stay at home and stay in touch’ services, including styling advice over chat and video as well as bespoke subscription boxes

Further announcements & in the news:

  • After announcing the production of hand sanitizers earlier this month, LVMH is now supplying the French health service with 40 million medical masks
  • The UK high street starts to close with John Lewis, New Look, TK MAXX and the Arcadia brands temporarily shuttering stores
  • Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach is closed after being flooded with thousands of people ignoring government advice to self-isolate

Friday – March 20th

Charity donations continue & retailers mix up edits with WFH & ‘Stay in date nights’

  • 316 retailers mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • Monki invited followers to create an OOTD (outfit of the day) on their platform Monkisphere – comments underneath include ‘just what I needed to get my mind off this pandemic ‘
  • BoohooMAN released a hoodie with snood/face mask detail
  • Everlane and Good American lead contributions to charity within discount communications
  • Reformation references California’s ‘Safer at Home’ order put in place the day before (Apr 19) and announces the temporary closure of its LA factory and DC
  • Luxury players Burberry, Bottega Veneta, Loewe, Valentino and Lanvin send their first emails mentioning coronavirus

Further announcements & in the news:

  • Tax Day is moved from April 15th to July 15th
  • The BBC report that UK policies to limit the spread of coronavirus would be needed for ‘at least most of a year’
  • Spain becomes the fourth country to register more than 1,000 deaths, after China, Italy and Iran
  • The first British arrest for failing to self-isolate is made on the Isle of Man
  • The World Snooker Championship at Crucible postponed

Thursday – March 19th

Promotion of cleanliness within warehouses and more US store closures

  • 273 retailers mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • Temporary store closures to begin today at JCPenney
  • Other retailers closing stores: Roland Mouret, Maurices, YMC, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Famous Footwear, Old Navy and IKEA
  • Retailers remaining open and promoting cleanliness in stores: Rose & Grey (UK), Harris Scarfe (AU), SHEIKE (AU)
  • Free shipping and extended return windows promoted
  • Retailers cite stores closing until April
  • AlexandAlexa explain warehouses have ‘the best in automation, which helps minimize staff interaction’
  • The Idle Man offer 20% off with code TOGETHER
  • Rebellious Fashion lists increased hygiene measure, extended returns and 10% off everything
  • Consumers urged to stay connected through social channels

Further announcements & in the news:

  • Amazon has temporarily shut a New York delivery warehouse following a staff member testing positive for coronavirus
  • CFDA 2020 Fashion Awards have been postponed
  • The 2020 Cannes Film Festival is canceled
  • High profile celebrities such as Justin Beiber and Lady Gaga join the growing number of A-Listers donating to charities to fight coronavirus
  • Retailers such as H&M, Next, Burberry and Zara start reporting feeling the effects of COVID-19 on sales
  • Vogue Italia grants 3 months of access to its online archives while the New Yorker and Vanity Fair lift the paywall on coronavirus articles
  • Pressure is mounting on postponing the Tokyo Olympics. However, a decision has still not been made

Wednesday – March 18th

Brands begin to communicate donations to charities

  • 266 retailers mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • Young Frankk donate a portion of proceeds to The CDP Covid-19 response fund
  • In The Style will donate 100% of profits from Olivia Bowen edit to Age UK
  • PacSun invite followers to connect on Instagram and TikTok
  • Millers create a shopping checklist with essential items such face masks
  • The Tot communicate homeschool lesson plans and how to talk to your kids about coronavirus
  • STAUD give customers a 25% off site wide discount with the code THANKYOU25 and donate 10% of purchases made with the code to St Vincent’s Meals on Wheels

Further announcements & in the news:

  • Glastonbury is canceled
  • Australian Fashion Week is canceled
  • NHS workers are offered discounts in food chains in the UK
  • Eurovision 2020 in Rotterdam is canceled
  • The Friends reunion special will now be delayed
  • Schools, colleges and nurseries are slated to close across the UK
  • Inditex announces it will have 300,000 surgical masks ready to ship to coronavirus patients and health workers in Spain by the end of the week

Tuesday – March 17th

Encouragement to ‘stay cozy’ and alternative ways to shop

  • 182 retailers mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • BETTS communicate free shipping and returns, and extend return policy from 14 days to 30 days
  • Kate Sylvester offer more ways to shop – phone or email local stores, or book a closed door shopping session
  • Bec + Bridge ask what followers want to see on social media and if subscribers are happy to receive ‘updates on new arrivals and what’s dropped online and in stores’
  • Taking Shape are offering online styling appointments after canceling in person sessions
  • Morgan Lane offer 20% off to encourage people to stay indoors with code STAYCOZY20 and encourage donations to food banks
  • Babyshop share downloadable coloring sheets for children and encourage followers to share drawings on Instagram

Further announcements & in the news:

  • Laura Ashley file for administration
  • Euro 2020 will be postponed until the summer of 2021
  • In entertainment, Universal Studios releases films currently in cinemas for renting via streaming services. SNL is suspended indefinitely and Netflix halts production on scripted shows.
  • Prada donates new intensive care and resuscitation units to three hospitals in Italy
  • Except for medical supplies and ‘high demand products,’ Amazon suspends shipments of items from independent retailers to its warehouses

Monday – March 16th

Further store closures, but also ‘business as usual’

  • 67 retailers mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • Burton Snowboards, Outdoor Voices and Lululemon among retailers reassuring that staff will be paid expected wages during store closures
  • ASOS reported business as usual, while Christopher Raeburn and Lulu Guinness communicated stores would remain open with additional precautions taken
  • Notes from the CEO continued to be sent from retailers including Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, Aldo, Catherines and Columbia
  • DSW communicated the JLO pop-up shop would be postponed

Further announcements & in the news:

  • The Met Gala has been postponed indefinitely
  • Pitti Uomo, New York Bridal Week and Tokyo Fashion Week will be held digitally
  • Istanbul Modest Fashion Week has been postponed
  • Licensing Expo 2020 will move to August

Sunday – March 15th 

Store closures and reduced trading hours 

  • 60 retailers mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • George at Asda and the Abercrombie & Fitch group structure emails with three clear areas – ‘In Our Shops’, ‘Online’ and ‘Our Shelves’ and ‘Our Store Locations’, ‘Our Home Office’ and ‘Our Online Experience’, respectively
  • New York & Company include a personal email address for customers to contact
  • BHLDN communicate that as far as they know none of their employees have tested positive for COVID-19

Saturday – March 14th

Store closures, community spirit and a hold on ‘touch services’

  • 71 retailers mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • Strong messages of care and support to customers and staff
  • ‘Community’ is used by many brands and retailers
  • Cleanliness within stores and staff working practices
  • Store closures and shortened store opening times communicated
  • Donations to charities to support the fight against COVID-19 or the vulnerable
  • A hold on ‘touch services’ such as make-up tutorials, product texting and bra fitting
  • Extended return periods promoted

Friday – March 13th

Apologies & alternative ways of communication are pushed

  • 54 retailers mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • Retailers reach out under all umbrella brands
  • Messages are tailored to each brands consumer identity
  • Consumers are thanked for continued support
  • Alternative ways of communication are pushed
  • Advice for when shopping in store and feeling unwell

Thursday – March 12th

Continuation of messages from CEOs and to take care

  • 24 retailers mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus
  • Assurance that government advice is being followed
  • Encouragement to take care and stay safe
  • Messages of ‘looking forward’ to welcoming shoppers in store
  • Gap’s Italian stores remain closed until further notice

Wednesday – March 11th

Messages of reassurance and a focus on health

  • 15 retailers mentioning covid-19 or coronavirus
  • Coccinelle use hashtags – #distantimauniti meaning ‘apart, but all together’ and #iorestoacasa meaning ‘I stay home’
  • Lengthy emails from founders and teams with heartfelt, apologetic and informative tones
  • Addressing challenges in supply chains and delivery problems

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