Europe goes in lockdown: countries close their borders, chains close their stores. Measures against the spread of the coronavirus become more drastic, but differ in each country. How will retailers cope?
Belgium and Germany close stores
Belgium and Germany are the latest to order all non-essential stores to close. Just like Italy, Spain, France and now even Switzerland, they are forcing all non-food stores to close as part of a lockdown. The United Kingdom and the Netherlands, countries where the governments expressed hope that 60 % of the population become infected sooner rather than later as part of the "herd immunity" goal, have become islands in a European closed-down sea.
One thing that is already banned in the Netherlands, but which is still allowed in many European countries, is restaurant takeaway. Home deliveries are booming in the Dutch market, but most companies opt for a 'contactless' delivery where the orders are left at the front door. This method has already been adopted by online supermarkets like Albert Heijn's, and pizza chains like Domino's.
Major companies are following suit: Nike and Apple have closed all their stores outside of China, while Primark was forced to close so many stores that trading in shares of its owner AB Foods was suspended for a while. Other companies keep their stores open but close their headquarters, as is the case with Ikea in Sweden and (again) Nike's European headquarters in the Netherlands.
One by one, European countries close their borders - spreading from Eastern Europe to Germany and France now. The main target is keeping out infected people, but putting a stop to cross-border hoarders is a welcome added bonus. The side effect that border checks are hindering European freight traffic, an issue that logistical service suppliers urge governments to solve.