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Next-day delivery? The challenges for retailers during the Coronavirus pandemic

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DPD Delivery truck in Germany, September 2019.
DPD Delivery truck in Germany, September 2019.   -   Copyright  JOERG SARBACH/AP
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As countries across Europe implement measures of social distancing and self-isolation, many might expect the industry of online shopping and couriers to receive a boost.

While most European countries have maintained operation of their postal services, the global spread of the virus has created challenges for retailers, from supply chains to delivery.

The long queues at supermarkets are mirrored at the courier desks, and many companies have been forced to restrict their services during the pandemic.

Amazon has confirmed it will only receive vital supplies at warehouses in the US and Europe until April 5​ .

The company say the move to prioritise products for health, groceries and personal care is intended to free space for the high demand of goods during the outbreak of COVID-19.

Meanwhile in France, popular online marketplace Leboncoin has also been forced to temporarily modify their services.

In an email to customers, Leboncoin said they would be removing the relay point delivery system to “guarantee the safety of our users and our staff”. Chronopost, which delivers internationally from France has also adopted this measure.

Although UPS is continuing to deliver packages, customers in countries that have declared public health emergencies may experience delays, while SEUR, a delivery service from Spain and Portugal, will also be operating with a series of restrictions.

Saturday deliveries and the company’s telegram service have been abolished nationally, while in Italy, SEUR is no longer operating in several regions, including Brescia, Bergamo and Rovato.

In a statement, DPD Group, whose brands include Chronopost and SEUR, said that they had introduced a number of precautionary steps due to national and international sanctions. “​Due to shops closing and containment in ... countries like France, Italy & Spain, normal quality service is not always possible, sometimes with significant delays.​”

Travel bans have also been introduced by DPD Group workers in line with local measures against the coronavirus.

“​Our teams are fully dedicated to overcome this crisis and maintain our delivery whenever it is possible.”

“We are currently in a fast-moving situation and will continue monitoring events closely.”

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention have said that there is a very low risk of COVID-19 spreading from products and packages, because of the “poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces”.

In their advice on COVID-19, the World Health Organization has also stressed that the Coronavirus seems to behave like other viruses, although it is not certain how long this virus can survive on surfaces.

“​Studies suggest that coronaviruses ... may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days”, depending on the different conditions, such as the type of packaging or humidity of the environment.

“If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others”.

“Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water [and] avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose”.

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