// H&M strips cash payments as an “additional precaution” amid coronavirus outbreak
// The retailer posted signs outside store windows to inform customers
H&M has said it is limiting cash payments to certain tills as an “additional precaution” in a bid to minimise the risk of the coronavirus spread.
The fast fashion retailer saw its second quarter sales take a hit due to the outbreak, despite group sales for the three months to February 29 reaching £5 billion.
The negative impact was seen mainly in China, where the outbreak first began.
Demand in the region dropped after January 23 “as a result of the rapid development of the virus”.
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H&M posted signs outside stores to ensure customers were informed of its new policy in limiting cash transactions.
H&M wrote in an email to customers on Saturday: “The safety and wellbeing of our teams and customers is our top priority. As we continue to monitor the developments of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), we wanted to take a moment to reassure you of the steps we are taking as a brand and trusted community partner.”
All stores are now temporarily closed in Italy – the second worst affected country after China – and during the weekend all stores were also closed temporarily in Poland, Spain, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Belgium, France and partly in Greece.
Online trading will continue as usual.
Meanwhile, some retailers have set limits on certain products with a desperate plea to shoppers to “think before you buy”.
Aldi announced that due to “unprecedented demand” it was limiting purchases on all products to four units maximum, while Sainsbury’s outgoing chief executive Mike Coupe emailed customers to urge them to stop stockpiling.
Coupe said essential items had been ordered from manufacturers and that if everyone shopped just for what they need there would be enough for everyone.
The Big 4 grocer is now limiting purchases of soap, hand wash, tissues, cleaning products, rice, pasta and UHT milk to five of each item and pain relief to two items.
Boots has also limited purchases of hand sanitiser, children’s medicine, pain relief and hygiene products.
Elsewhere, online grocer Ocado saw its website and app crashing several times on Friday as shoppers scurried to shop online in a bid to self-isolate.
Sainsbury’s and Waitrose had no online delivery slots available for at least three weeks.
Supermarkets have also urged the government to ditch the 5p carrier bag charge to try and halt the spread of coronavirus.
Retailers who held crisis talks with George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, last week, warned that shoppers risked spreading the virus by bringing their own reusable bags from home.