Fast fashion stores in the UK and Ireland are currently experiencing a crisis as the COVID-19 pandemic leads to a decrease in footfall and forces them to shut their doors. While the government has not issued an official order to close shops, the governments of both countries have been encouraging social distancing, resulting in a significant drop in customers.

One of the most well-known fast fashion retailers, Primark, has made the decision to close all 189 of its branches in the UK and Ireland. Unlike its competitors, Primark does not have an online retail presence, which means that the closures will have a severe impact on the company’s ability to generate sales during this period. As a result, Primark has also cancelled all future orders from its suppliers and has shut down most of its shops in other European locations as well.

The closures not only affect the store staff, but also have a significant impact on the head office design and buying teams, as well as the manufacturing companies in the supply chain and others involved in its logistics operation. In response to these challenges, Primark’s parent company, Associated British Foods, has announced that its direct employees will receive their full pay for 14 days. However, it remains unclear what will happen after this initial period. To mitigate the impact on contracted staff, the UK government has introduced measures to pay up to 80% of their wages if their employers agree to retain them.

Paul Marchant, the CEO of Primark, has described the current situation as “unprecedented and frankly unimaginable times”. Other fast fashion retailers are also facing similar struggles and have chosen to close their stores as well. For example, New Look has closed all of its 480 UK stores and 28 Republic of Ireland stores. Although its online store is still operational, there have been reports that production is being scaled back.

River Island has also closed its stores in the UK and Ireland, but its website remains open for business. Arcadia, the parent company of popular brands such as Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, and Wallis, has also shut down its hundreds of stores. It is reported that Arcadia plans to continue paying its workers for the next month, but will review the situation thereafter. This closure poses additional challenges for Arcadia, as it has already been operating under company voluntary arrangements due to the declining market for fashion through physical retail stores.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the global economy, the fast fashion industry is clearly entering a critical period. With stores closing and some retailers lacking an online presence, significant revenue losses are expected. The duration of these closures and the long-term effects on the fast fashion industry remain uncertain. Retailers will need to adapt quickly to survive this unprecedented crisis as the situation continues to evolve.

Useful Links:
– [Primark](https://www.primark.com/)
– [New Look](https://www.newlook.com)