Next has become the latest high street chain to announce a temporary shut-down of all of its UK stores as a result of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.
The business, which operates around 500 stores in the UK, closed its doors at the end of trading today. Last week the business said it had seen says plummet 30% since the virus outbreak hit the UK.
However its CEO Lord Simon Wolfson said it had carried out stress tests, which showed the business could “comfortably sustain” more than £1 billion loss of sales over the full year – including sales declines of up to 100% in some weeks during the peak of the outbreak.
In a communication to customers the retailer, which will continue to operate online, thanked its staff and customers and said it would be offering free deliveries and returns. Customers' click & collect parcels would automatically be sent to the main billing address, it added, with any unsuccessful deliveries automatically refunded.
Any customer which has purchased something in-store and wishes to return it will have 14 days after the stores re-open to do so.
“When the time is right we will look forward to welcoming our customers back into our stores," it said.
Most of the big high street chains have voluntarily closed their doors including Arcadia, H&M, River Island, New Look, John Lewis, Debenhams, Kurt Geiger and more, ahead of a widely anticipated shut-down of non-essential retail as Coronavirus deaths mount in UK. The current death toll stands at 335, a six-fold increase on this time last week.
Read all of our COVID-19 updates in our dedicated content hub.