Opinion: Don’t let rogue warehouses spark an online retail lockdown

George MacDonald

Mass store closures ordered by the government to combat the coronavirus crisis have dealt the retail industry a devastating blow.

Lost sales are already into the billions – numbers provided by Dixons Carphone and Primark alone total more than £1bn – and profits are evaporating.

In such torrid conditions, ecommerce is the last remaining income stream for retailers selling products deemed inessential. However, that channel may be jeopardised by the irresponsible behaviour of a few.

In the last few days, worrying allegations have been made about working practices in some warehouses including, it is claimed, rules on social distancing not being enforced. The GMB trade union, in particular, has gone on the offensive, partly, no doubt, in the hope of winning recognition deals that increase its power.

As well as unions, others have made allegations on social media about warehouse conditions. The claims are not always possible to substantiate and, if true, are unrepresentative of the seriousness with which the majority of retailers take responsibility for their people.

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