Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest responses from M&S and John Lewis Partnership

Laura Jacobson
Head of Insight - RA UK

Date : 23 March 2020

Latest developments include Waitrose stores identifying ways to help their local communities with its new £1m community fund, and M&S dedicating the first hour of trading on specific days to NHS and emergency workers as well as older and vulnerable shoppers.

New £1m Community Partnership Fund

The John Lewis Partnership is making a £1m Community Partnership Fund available to be distributed by Waitrose shops to local communities.

Teams in each shop will work together with their communities to choose the best way to use the fund. Help could include setting up additional local delivery services to support the self-isolating, the vulnerable, the elderly and those looking after them; delivering boxes of staples to local care homes and community groups, and donating products to create care packages for customers to share with vulnerable neighbours.

Dealing with increased demand on

Earlier cut off times for online orders are helping manage the increased demand for online groceries at this time. The retailer is also offering the option of doorstep delivery for those self-isolating. Like many retailers, is currently limiting the number of high-demand products shoppers can put in their online basket.

The retailer is working on ways to support its most vulnerable customers who need food delivered to them.

Store responses from Waitrose & Partners

All store cafés and rotisseries are temporarily closed, and the making of coffee has ceased, in order to allow more staff to restock shelves. Some stores are also closing early for this reason.

More than 2,100 John Lewis partners are helping in Waitrose shops and supporting deliveries.

As on, there are also limits in place on the number of units shoppers can buy – currently three of any specific grocery item, and two packs of toilet roll.    

Supporting the NHS 

Waitrose supermarkets will be keeping daily essentials aside for NHS workers. They will also receive priority treatment at checkouts.  

John Lewis & Partners have put together care packages that they will deliver to NHS facilities around the country. 

Temporary closure of John Lewis stores

John Lewis stores will be temporarily closed from Monday 23rd March.

The business has said over the coming days it be exploring ways to offer Partner-led services remotely. This could include nursery or wellbeing advice, craft and cookery classes provided by Partners online, or on one to one calls. 

M&S to introducing shopping hours for NHS and emergency workers

Like an increasing number of retailers in the UK and globally, M&S will allocate the first hour of shopping on certain days to vulnerable and older shoppers. This commences on Friday 20th March, and from next week will take place on Mondays and Thursdays.

M&S will also offer the same first hour shopping prioritisation to NHS and emergency workers on Tuesdays and Fridays.

M&S has requested other shoppers respect its request to uphold the initiative that aims to provide easier access and better availability for those who need it most.

More measures from M&S to support customer demand

Colleagues from M&S’s clothing & home division are being reallocated to food to support demand for groceries.

Across M&S’s services, including M&S Bank, Food to Order and online deliveries the retailer has introduced measures to minimise physical contact, but continue to support its customers. It will also be utilising its social media channels to provide advice on storing and saving food and recipe inspiration for those self-isolating.

For further coverage of retailer responses to coronavirus (COVID-19) 

Read IGD’s latest updates on this topic here