Coronavirus (COVID-19): retailers’ responses in Portugal

Date : 30 April 2020

Lucy Bellotti

Retail Analyst

We look at how retailers in Portugal are implementing measures to ensure everyone has access to products, as they respond to the coronavirus pandemic.


Sonae MC-owned Continente has announced it continues to support shoppers by improving its contingency plan. The group has improved its response capacity in all grocery stores and is increasing communication between all stakeholders in its supply chain. The group remains committed to providing shoppers with the essentials during this time.

Sonae MC-owned Continente revealed measures have been set to secure the safety of both shoppers and employees. The measures introduced to protect shoppers include:

  • Keeping opening hours business as usual, any updates will be communicated here
  • The retailer encourages shoppers to use contactless payment methods
  • It is prioritising essential products and is keeping promotions and prices the same
  • Continente has created a priority passage area for; over 70s, key workers, visible and non-visible disabilities and pregnant women. The priority passage is located at the entrance of stores and maintains entry regulations, including four shoppers per 100 sq. m rule

The retailer’s online channel is working at full capacity, modifications have been made to protect delivery drivers and shoppers, these consist of:

  • Shoppers can no longer pay on delivery; all payments must be made online
  • Delivery drivers must not enter properties, all deliveries must be made at shoppers’ doors
  • The retailer has reduced its click and go service, to focus on home deliveries

The group implemented the following procedures to protect its employees:

  • Protective panels and 2m floor markings have been added to areas surrounding service counters and checkouts
  • All Continente stores and distribution centres are fully disinfected throughout the day and an external cleaning company sanitises while closed
  • It has offered its employees an exclusive store timetable to purchase products safely and quietly
  • Sonae MC’s customer service team have been allocated to work from home

Continente launched pre-packaged baskets on its online channel, allowing shoppers to purchase pre-selected essential products easily and efficiently. The grocery baskets can be delivered to shoppers for a fee of €3.99, but free delivery is provided for shoppers over 65.

The retailer offers grocery baskets for €30 consisting of 20 products and baskets dedicated towards children’s groceries for €21, comprising of 14 products. Orders through the Portuguese Red Cross tele-assistance service are available for senior shoppers.

Pingo Doce

Jerónimo Martins-owned Pingo Doce announced it invested €30,000 in screening suspected patients for coronavirus, a project developed by Biosurfit. The retailer claims the project identifies the virus early, which could potentially help vulnerable patients.

Isabel Pinto, Pingo Doce’s general manager stated, ‘We decided to support this innovative project because we believe it will contribute to a better assessment and monitoring of patients and save lives.

Furthermore, the retailer understands the importance of keeping stores open and stocked with essential products. Therefore, all stores will remain open Monday to Sunday, but each store has proposed new opening hours.


Mercadona has pledged to helping its shoppers comply to guidelines set by the government. The following measures are being outlined in-store:

  • The retailer is fitting protective screens to all checkouts
  • The group reduced the shopping hours to 09.00-19.00
  • Mercadona placed mandatory gloves at the entrance of all stores and must be worn when picking loose food products
  • Floor markings to create a two-metre distance at checkouts and at store entrances
  • The group donated 5,000kg of food products and 3,000 dishes to food banks that tackle hunger in Porto
  • Mercadona recently donated 20,000 kg of chocolate to food banks, the retailer claims it’s helping to boost morale during Easter

Other initiatives

  • E Leclerc announced it has frozen the prices of 3,500 private label products, while isolation measures remain. Furthermore, the retailer allocated space in selected stores for local cheeses, fruit and vegetables
  • Makro Portugal launched a free online platform dedicated to businesses trying to set up takeaways and home delivery services. It provides support to companies selling food goods including butchers, fishmongers, bakeries, wine cellars, mini-markets and others. The free online service offers businesses a free website to promote the takeaway/ home delivery service
  • Mondelez Portugal donated 30,000 sachets of Belvita and digestive biscuits, 6,500 chocolate bars and 5,000 packs of Trident chewing gum, to food banks

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