Retailers reminded to focus on e-commerce H&S as England enters second lockdown

With a second national lockdown forcing shoppers online this winter, compliance authority Bureau Veritas is reiterating to retailers and logistics firms extending their e-commerce capacity to put in place the extra health, safety and hygiene measures this inevitably requires.

Unsurprisingly, figures from even before the second lockdown was announced showed a steep shift towards online shopping, with almost three-quarters of shoppers saying they were deterred from shopping in-store this Christmas due to COVID-19 restrictions2. E-retail giant Amazon, which flourished during the first lockdown, recently announced its Prime Day, which took place 13-14 October, made $3.5bn in sales during this event alone, equating to a 60% uplift compared to 2019’s event.3

With the sector once again having to adapt to online selling, and bolstering their business’ e-commerce offering, Bureau Veritas is reminding retailers and their logistics suppliers to ensure they have adequate ‘COVID-secure’ measures in place to cope with rising online demand, as well as addressing other health and safety associated with sweeping changes in distribution. 

Chris Morris, Head of Key Accounts at Bureau Veritas comments: “The introduction of a second lockdown, albeit due to finish in early December, will force most Christmas shoppers online. Added to that is Black Friday, which falls within the new lockdown – thus these deals will too rely on e-commerce this year.

“As a result, many high-street retailers and their logistics partners will be working around the clock to improve their online and delivery capabilities to ensure they remain competitive in this year’s Black Friday and Christmas sales spikes. Whether that’s supermarkets finding new ways to automate their picking and packing processes, or retailers turning their high-street stores into temporary distribution points, in the rush to cope with the so-called ‘golden quarter’ of trading, firms must not overlook the plethora of added risks this presents.

“Implementing and managing ‘COVID-secure’ measures in-store have been the main priority for the sector in recent months. With thousands of temporary warehouse staff expected to be recruited ahead of the Christmas frenzy, now is the time to step up COVID-secure measures as it remains unknown exactly how long this second lockdown will last. This must be balanced with other key health and safety risks such as fire safety.”

Bureau Veritas, which regularly works with major players in the retail and logistics sectors, is reminding retailers to consider the following when ramping up their e-commerce operations:

  • If you’re turning your high-street shop into a pop-up distribution centre, make sure you map out your fire safety procedures to mitigate fire risk
  • If recruiting temporary staff this festive season, ensure adequate health and safety training is provided in both COVID-secure measures and other health and safety procedures
  • Take the time now to review and adjust businesses continuity plans, so that should a coronavirus outbreak occur, you are prepared 

Bureau Veritas is an expert consultancy in testing, inspection and certification services, and can provide a robust assessment of a retailer’s current health and safety procedures, as well as offer recommendations to ensure best practice in health and safety policy.

1 https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/retailindustry/bulletins/retailsales/july2020#online-retail-sales

2 https://www.theindustry.fashion/three-quarters-of-brits-to-avoid-shopping-in-store-this-christmas/

3 https://econsultancy.com/stats-roundup-coronavirus-impact-on-marketing-ecommerce-advertising/

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