BR ANALYSIS | Consumers move online in times of crisis

Mihai Cristea 15/04/2020 | 17:00

Many global retailers operating both in Romania and abroad have announced temporary store closures in a bid to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. In parallel, they’ve adapted their working policies to the new context.

By Anda Sebesi

 

At the international level, in most cases, employees are being paid for lost shifts, and things are quite similar on the local market. For example, Mobexpert Group has decided to close its stores indefinitely and pay 75 percent of the base salary for each of its 2,400 employees until the Covid-19 outbreak passes. “Since we don’t sell a basic necessity product for this situation, the only responsible decision is to suspend our activity,” Dan Sucu, president and co-owner of Mobexpert Group said earlier this month, cited by Hotnews.ro. The company has also decided to take on all the financial loss due to the current crisis in an attempt to protect its customers and employees.

With consumers staying at home and avoiding public places, it is clear that many online retailers will see an upsurge in traffic. Food is the sector that looks set to benefit the most. A recent global Ipsos survey found that in most countries, people are buying food or groceries online no more than they usually would, with Italy being an exception.

Going back to the Romanian market, Catalin Pozdarie, general manager at Hervis Sports & Fashion Romania, says that considering the current context, when it is easier to prevent than to treat, it is obvious that shopping for primary needs is mainly being carried out online.

“Apart from consuming food and movies, people need to stay calm and optimistic. Individuals who used to have a healthy and active lifestyle and engaged in physical activity on a daily basis have an advantage. And this can be seen in our latest online orders,” he says.

As for the significant lack of workforce in this field in Romania, he says this problem existed before the Covid-19 outbreak, too.

“It is now probably the time for us to realise that we are not alone. We live in a society and we need to rely on respect, starting from self-respect to that of a job well done,” Pozdarie concludes.

As one of the main engines of the local economy in the last decade, retailers are now more concerned than ever about the safety of their customers and employees and are focusing on maintaining stocks available for the population. From Carrefour to Cora, Kaufland, Lidl, Metro, and Mega Image, all retailers are now focusing on bringing their contribution to stop the spread of coronavirus. “During this difficult time, we as retailers play a crucial role and have a huge responsibility. So we’re making all the possible efforts to remain a safe place for shopping both in stores and online,” says Mircea Moga, CEO at Mega Image. As a result, the company has adjusted its schedule, set up a dedicated shopping timeframe for seniors and disabled people, limited access to its stores to avoid congestion and made adjustments to the self-service aisles and cash register areas. In addition, in order to avoid prolonged human contact, deliveries from its supermarket only allow online card payments.

Kaufland is another example in this regard. Apart from similar standard measures to protect its customers, Kaufland decided to offer a EUR 1.6 million bonus to the teams working in its stores and warehouses and introduced immediate payment for overtime performed during this period. In addition, in an attempt to protect its more vulnerable employees, the company decided that employees aged over 65 and pregnant women who work for the company could choose to take paid leave.

Last but not least, Roland Ruffing, CEO at Metro Cash&Carry Romania, said in March that the company had established a working group that closely cooperates with Romanian authorities and all the Metro stores in the country in order to ensure that all possible preventive measures are taken.

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