Tuesday 31st March: Latest toy industry reaction to coronavirus outbreak

Published on: 31st March 2020

Here is today’s latest news, including how retail, warehouses and logistics are coping, plus a new campaign to help retail staff.

Many retailers have now introduced measures to support staff, including Sainsbury’s, which is paying a 10% bonus to all permanent hourly paid staff in Sainsbury’s and Argos. Aldi has also announced a 10% bonus for staff in its stores and distribution centres, while Tesco employees in stores, distribution centres and customer engagement centres will receive the same level of bonus. Delivery and logistics company, Ocado will also award a 10% bonus to frontline staff.

Retailers across the board have increased safety procedures to protect both staff and customers, including safety screens at checkouts. Ocado has obtained coronavirus testing kits for its frontline workers, and is temperature testing all employees at its customer fulfillment centres. The company has promised to make the kits available to the government if required.

John Lewis is offering free meals at work for many department store and Waitrose staff, and the retailer is also donating items such as pillows, phone chargers, eye masks and hand cream, as well as 50,000 Easter treats, to hospitals. TK Maxx has donated all the remaining food in its stores to food banks and hospitals, while Morrisons is donating £10m worth of produce to help restock the nation’s food banks and has set up food donation areas in store, for shoppers who would like to contribute.

Amazon workers have staged a walk out at a depot in New York City, demanding increased protective gear and hazard pay. “Since the building won’t close by itself, we’re going to have to force their hand,” the lead organizer of the strike told reporters. Strikers have demanded that the company close the warehouse for thorough cleaning after reports of multiple employees testing positive for the coronavirus.

To help retail workers, the CaRe20 (Caring for Retail during Covid-19) campaign has been set up by RWRC, retailTRUST and the British Retail Consortium, to raise funds to provide support to store workers during the health emergency. Although the UK government has announced a series of measures to financially support retained employees, retailTRUST, RWRC and the BRC believe this will not be sufficient to help everybody in need.

The money raised through CaRe20 will provide financial grants, telephone and online counselling, physical exercise; retraining, online self-help tools and resources through Chris Brook-Carter, MD of RWRC and incoming chief executive of retailTRUST, commented: “This appeal has the capacity to support the many colleagues who are ensuring vital stores and supply chains are kept open over coming weeks, while also acting as a safety net for those who are now facing financial and psychological distress as a result of a loss of income.” Donations can be made here.

Ocean shipping company Mærsk has confirmed that crew members from a vessel reportedly arrived from Hong Kong have been hospitalized in Ningbo, China, with suspected cases of coronavirus. Christian Kjærgaard-Winther, Maersk senior press officer, said, “The vessel was awaiting phasing into our network and currently idle at the quayside in Ningbo, China. Extra precaution measures will be taken for crew replacement and sanitations will be implemented.” A coronavirus update posted by the company had already warned that measures taken by governments and companies to mitigate the crisis will result in an economic slowdown and lower volume demand, and Mærsk is taking steps to prepare its network to match the short-term reduced demand level.

Making the safety of employees its first priority, The Entertainer has adopted a warehouse shift system that ensures social distancing at all times. An updated message on the company website reads: “We’re striving to deliver our usual levels of service but hope you’ll understand that things may be a little slower. Thank you for your continued support and understanding.” The company has advised customers that deliveries are currently taking up to seven working days.

Indie retailer Midco Toys’ surprise bags are going down a storm with customers. By simply choosing a price point of £10, £20 or £30 and providing a few details, shoppers can have a package, put together by Midco staff, delivered locally. One happy customer enthused: “We took Midco up on the surprise bags today, got two bags for my boys and a challenging puzzle for the week, all done simply over the phone and delivered the same day. Proper service that. Well Done Midco Toys, many thanks.”



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