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Primark, John Lewis, The Entertainer among stores temporarily closed

Business shifts online for many as number of stores closing to mitigate the potential spread of coronavirus increases over the weekend.

Business is moving online for many as a host of high street retailers have now closed their doors to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus.

Primark – which does not have an online presence – announced yesterday (March 22) that its UK stores would close. The Sunday Times also reported that the fast fashion retailer – which is a key supporter of licensing – has cancelled all supplier orders which had yet to reach its distribution centres. According to the paper, the company is using a force majeure clause in its contracts to cancel the orders.

John Lewis will close all of its 50 stores from close of business today (Monday March 23). Its website will continue to operate as normal, alongside Waitrose shops and waitrose.com. This marks the first time in the 155-year history of the business that it will not open its doors for customers.

Chairman Sharon White commented: “The Partnership has traded for over 155 years, during which time we have faced many difficult periods, including two world wars and the 2008 financial crisis. On every occasion, thanks to our customers and Partners, and the long standing relationships with our suppliers and stakeholders, we have emerged stronger.

“We all need to continue to support each other and our strength and resilience will be tested. But they will not be broken.”

The parent company of Zara – Inditex – has closed almost 4,000 stores across the globe.

Inditex warned the pandemic has had a ‘significant impact’ in certain markets resulting in temporary closures of 3,785 of its stores, as the group was forced to close in 39 markets globally. It said said it is currently too early to quantify the future impact of the virus’ effect on future revenues.

The Entertainer confirmed via its social media channels this morning that it will temporarily close all stores from 5pm. The toy retailer’s online presence – TheToyShop.com – is already hosting a number of promotions, with these set to continue over the next few weeks.

TK Maxx has closed all 349 UK stores until further notice.

All Fenwick stores – which includes Bentalls in Kingston – closed on March 19 until further notice.

Selfridges has closed all of its UK locations – including its flagship store on London’s Oxford Street – with its website continuing to trade.

The iconic Harrods department store in London’s Knightsbridge has closed its doors until further notice – although its food hall and pharmacy remain open.

Explaining its decision, Harrods said it has gone through many challenges during its 170-year history: “We continued to trade and serve our customers during World War II, and only closed for a short period of time after the car bomb attack of the 1980s. Harrods is a symbol of resilience in a changing and often uncertain world, and I know that our values will ensure that we as a business come through this next chapter.”

Waterstones has confirmed that it is closing its 280 UK branches from today (March 23).

Liberty closed its London store for at least three weeks from March 20, stating: “As a business we remain optimistic, we know this moment will pass, but we are neither complacent nor naïve. We know we need to make our contribution to dissuade people from moving and protect our staff and our customers.”

LibertyLondon.com will continue to offer exclusives across all departments, while it has also improved options for gifting, personalised messaging and international shipment to allow consumers to send gifts to those they may not be able to visit at this time.

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