Next has reopened its online business “in a very limited way” after implementing additional safety measures against the spread of the coronavirus.
The clothing retailer said that from Tuesday it would resume the sale of “categories that our customers most need” such as childrenswear and some small homeware items.
It said other product ranges may be added at a later date.
Next, like other non-essential retailers, shut all its stores last month as part of the UK-wide restrictions imposed to try to limit the impact of the pandemic.
The company later announced that it was also temporarily closing its online business – which accounts more than half of its revenues – after pressure from its workforce.
It is now reopening the service in a limited way after implementing “very extensive additional safety measures” and having consulted with staff and recognised trade union USDAW.
Next said: “Operations will start with support from colleagues who are willing and able to safely return to work.
“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.”
Next said it would limit the number of customer orders to those it believed could be picked safely on any given day, after which the website would convert to “browse only” until the next morning.
By 9am on Tuesday the website stopped taking orders, with a message reading: “No more orders today, we’re open again tomorrow”.
Trade unions have accused rival retailers including ASOS, Matalan and Marks & Spencer of putting employees’ health at risk by forcing them to work too closely together.