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Next website halts orders hours after reopening

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The Next website has had to stop taking orders after it reopened in a limited way following a three-week break.

The retailer said demand exceeded capacity by about 08:30 BST and the site will be closed until Wednesday.

The fashion retailer had stopped taking orders on 26 March and closed its High Street stores on 23 March, a day before the UK went into lockdown.

But it reopened online on Tuesday after Next said it had strengthened social distancing measures at its warehouses.

Initially, the site will only sell necessities such as children’s clothes and selected small home items, although that could be extended in time.

“The idea is to begin selling in low volumes, so that we only need a small number of colleagues in each warehouse at any one time, helping to ensure rigorous social distancing is complied with,” the firm said in a statement.

“To achieve these limited volumes, Next will only allow customers to order the number of items that it believes can be picked safely on any given day.”

At that point, it said it would stop taking orders and convert the website to “browse only” until the following morning, which is what happened on Tuesday.

Explaining Tuesday’s surge, a spokesman said the firm had only asked people who wished to return to work to come in.

About 3,000 staff have volunteered, but all will need to go through a safety training course meaning most will not be back at work for several weeks.

Next usually employs 7,000 people across its eight distribution centres, which include a site at South Elmsall in West Yorkshire.

“As those numbers rise, then the amount of volume that the warehouses can cope with will rise and therefore the website will open for longer each day,” the spokesman told the BBC.

Original Article: BBC News

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