Coronavirus (COVID-19): retailers responses in Germany

Date : 16 April 2020

Keshia Beadle

Senior Retail Analyst

We bring you the latest news on how retailers and suppliers are coping with the challenges of COVID-19 in Germany. We will continue to update this article with the latest initiatives.

Ten-point plan for retail

The German Trade Association has laid out a plan for a gradual return to normality. It includes measures to support small businesses, stimulate consumer spending, adjust labour laws and relax restrictions on store opening times. It is hoped that these initiatives will help the country to recover from the pandemic as smoothly and easily as possible.

For further information, read the full article here.

E-commerce logistics

Retailers including Amazon are having to adjust their online services, following the sharp increase in demand. By improving logistics capabilities, they hope to relieve the infrastructure and avoid upsetting customers. Retailers are also limiting or removing certain benefits. For example, Amazon is temporarily suspending its Fresh membership program, which allows customers to have unlimited deliveries for less than eight euros a month. Instead, customers can choose from individual time slots available, at a cost of €4.99 per delivery. Rewe has also removed its flat rate delivery offer in order to manage demand.

Metro Group opens stores to the public

Metro Group has opened five of its German wholesale stores to all shoppers. Initially this will be available until the 19th of April, however this could be extended. Metro is looking to open all of its stores in the country to the public, in order to help meet the increased demands for supplies. However, this will be dependent on approval from government bodies.

Delivery service for vulnerable customers

In partnership with Deutsche Post and DHL Paket, Rewe has developed a platform for food delivery which is available to customers that are elderly or at risk from pre-existing medical conditions. Shoppers can complete an order form, which will be collected by Deutsche Post and DHL Paket and sent to a participating Rewe store. The scheme will initially be available in the North Rhine-Westphalia region, which covers around 37,000 households. If the project is successful, this could be extended to other areas across the country.

Doctors and nurses given priority for online deliveries

Online retailer Picnic (which Edeka owns a 35% stake in) are giving top priority to doctors and nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the increased demand, services are reaching capacity and Picnic will start delivering on Sundays from the 5th of April. This will be open to all shoppers, however health care workers will be prioritised. Online specialist Getnow is also providing health care workers with additional delivery slots and is waiving delivery costs.

Aldi and McDonald's form partnership

Due to the limited demand in the restaurant sector and the increased demand in grocery retail, McDonald's has teamed up with Aldi to redeploy some of its workforce. As part of the partnership, any McDonald's employee affected by restrictions or closures at restaurants can be placed at Aldi and temporarily treated like one of the discounter’s employees. The companies say it is a win-win situation as it allows employees to keep working and helps Aldi to deal with the unprecedented rise in demand at its stores. By organising this through the businesses, rather than individually, it reduces complexity for employees and enables staff to be redeployed quickly and efficiently.

Relaxation of trading laws

In response to COVID-19, the government has relaxed trading hours, allowing retailers to open on Sundays if they wish. However, with retailers facing issues to keep up with current demand, none of them have yet taken this up as they are already lacking staff.

The government is also exploring options for redeployment, such as whether soldiers could be used to help with truck driving. Non-food retailers are another option, as demand for these products has fallen significantly, driven by the enforced closure of these businesses. Although many have an online presence, this is not driving significant sales and so it may be possible to divert some of their available capacity to the grocery sector.

Protecting employees

As well as standard measures to increase hygiene practices, retailers are introducing transparent protective screens in checkout areas to protect staff. Rewe, Lidl and Aldi Süd have all announced they will install protective screens, with Aldi Nord also considering them. They are also looking into measures, such as respiratory masks for staff. Other initiatives include limiting the number of shoppers in-store and recommending customers avoid paying with cash where possible.

For the latest on COVID-19 visit