Patagonia Australia has become one of the first major retail chains in the country to close its bricks-and-mortar stores due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The retailer announced yesterday that it was closing all physical stores in Australia until March 27 “out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of all of our retail team members, their families and the community broadly”.
At this time, Patagonia’s local online store is still open and customer support and office staff are continuing to provide service remotely, but this could change as the situation develops.
“We will continue to make decisions based on the best interests of our employees, customers and community at large,” the retailer said in a statement.
The announcement comes just two days after Patagonia Australia, a full subsidiary of the US company, moved to reduce its trading hours to 11am to 3pm to help reduce the risk of infection.
The parent company announced last week that it was closing all of its stores, offices and online operations in the US until at least March 23.
Patagonia Australia recently opened its first flagship in Melbourne. It also has stores in Burleigh Heads, Byron Bay, Manly Beach, Sydney and Torquay, and operates two outlet stores in Melbourne and Geelong.
Stores forced to close in Europe, US
Retail stores are currently exempt from the ban on non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Wednesday. But many businesses are reporting a sharp drop in foot traffic, as consumers appear to be staying away from crowds of their own accord.
In Europe and parts of the US, where stricter lockdowns are in place, some retailers have been forced to close their bricks-and-mortar stores to help stop the spread of the virus. Others have done so voluntarily.
This includes several Australian retailers with global footprints, such as Harvey Norman, Kathmandu, Domino’s and Honey Birdette.
Flight Centre last week announced it would close 100 stores across Australia, but this appears to have been a business decision to cut costs. The travel sector has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
Qantas on Thursday announced it was standing down two thirds of its workforce until the end of May. Both Qantas and Virgin have cancelled all international flights.
Consumer confidence is at its lowest level since 2009, according to the most recent weekly survey from Roy Morgan.