By Justin Opie

IMRG are supporting the ‘CaRe20 – Caring for Retail during Covid-19’ campaign, which has the bold but highly necessary aim of raising £10m for retail staff facing financial distress due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Retail was already facing difficult times with numerous well-known retailers witnessing a downturn, but the pandemic has caused a level of disruption unprecedented in our lifetimes. It is just too difficult to predict how damaging this will end up being, or how long it will go on for. We – together as an industry – need to ensure we are doing all we can to support affected staff through what will be a tough period.

IMRG is the trade association for online retail, and there is a popular perception that it’s just the high street that’s suffering; that it’s a boom time for those retailers selling online. But that’s simply not the case. Clothing and footwear retailers in particular have seen demand for the items they stock fall through the floor.

Those fortunate enough to be selling the kind of products that are in high demand – grocery, health, home, electricals, garden – are also confronting a whole new set of challenges. Some are seeing order volumes outstripping Black Friday, but having to manage it with a skeleton crew to protect their warehouse staff and drivers.

The teams that are working night and day to fulfil the online orders and make sure we, as customers, have the essential items we need are front line workers…no question. Above all, their health and welfare are paramount as they are working under duress. Their mental as well as physical health will require support.

Some companies have had to suspend online sales completely. Many more companies are at risk of going out of business.

Thankfully, companies are obsessing about getting this right and the will exists right across industry to provide the kind of support that is going to be needed. Then there are the many thousands of retailers – small online businesses either unable to trade or seeing demand completely evaporate – who are facing a very anxious period.

To all our retail and solution provider members, please join us and support CaRe20 and lets collectively make a real difference.

Thank you.

Justin Opie, Managing Director, IMRG

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