Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest updates from Italy

Lucy Bellotti
Retail Analyst

Date : 15 April 2020

We look at how retailers across Italy are implementing measures to ensure everyone has access to products as they respond to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We will continue to update this article with the latest measures.

Technological developments

Retailers understand queuing outside and inside stores is increasing shoppers’ exposure to coronavirus. The Italian government has launched a digital initiative, which has been warmly received. The initiative enables businesses to offer free services that provide digital solutions to help other companies.

Esselunga has collaborated with ufirst to offer its shoppers a virtual queuing initiative. The retailer launched a trial of the ufirst app at two stores. The app allows shoppers to reserve their place in a virtual queue from home. The app will send a notification when it is the shopper’s turn, allowing them to arrive at the entrance and enter without waiting.

Source:  GDOWeek

Coop Lombardia and Coop Liguria has introduced [email protected]asa a digital solution, that provides shoppers with the ability to book a slot in-store. The digital solution has been supplied by Sopra Steria free of charge for two months and is available at selected Coop Lombardia and Coop Liguria stores.

Shoppers can choose timeslots for every half hour. Therefore, store managers are aware of the number of people entering the store, age and occupation enabling stores to be fully prepared. The digital solution has been extended to further stores in Lombardia, after receiving positive feedback from shoppers.

Students at Milan’s polytechnic university has developed an app that indicates the average waiting time per store. It can be accessed at The innovation provides information to shoppers, highlighting the least congested stores in Milan.

The app enables shoppers to comply with minimum safety distances, by reducing crowds and lessen the risk of exposure. The data is collected through each shopper reporting their in-store experience. 


Pam Panorama

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

  • Priority to doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals, civil protection volunteers and Red Cross employees
  • Disposable gloves available in departments, which includes loose fruit and loose bakery products
  • Always keep one metre from other shoppers


Esselunga is committed to helping the community and has provided shoppers over 65 with free delivery until Easter. Meanwhile, the retailer is donating €2.5m to hospitals and institutes involved in the front-line, in-patient care and scientific research against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, as it looks to encourage its shoppers to support these initiatives, Esselunga has offered every one of its loyalty card members to transform 500 points into €5, which can also be donated to hospitals.

Lidl Italia

Lidl Italia has said it has recognised the efforts of key workers in the country. To show its appreciation, the retailer is offering priority to doctors, nurses, other healthcare professionals and volunteers from all shopping associations.

Lidl Italia announced it is donating €500,000 to the Luigi Sacco Hospitals in Milan and Bergamo. Meanwhile, on 19 March the retailer reduced its opening hours; Monday-Saturday 8.30am-7.00pm and Sunday 8.30-1.00pm.

The group are limiting the number of shoppers in-store and stopping families from entering the store. In addition, Lidl staff are enforcing shoppers to stay one metre apart and insist purchases are made with cashless methods.

Source: Lidl Italia


Eurospin has committed to supplying stores through its national logistic systems. The retailer is maintaining its standard opening hours, including weekends, even in stores located in shopping centres.

The group is implementing measures to ensure checkout staff are protected, by providing disposable gloves, disinfectant and protective masks. In addition, Eurospin employees are being encouraged to enforce safe distances between shoppers and limit the number of shoppers in store.

Eurospin has recognised the outstanding work its employees are achieving and is providing €100 in shopping vouchers to all front-line employees. Moreover, the group has taken out emergency insurance for all employees, which includes a hospital allowance and money to cover a period of recovery too.

Carrefour Italia

Carrefour Italia has faced a large amount of online traffic, the group has forced measures to help control the large quantity of orders, by setting up virtual queues. In the short term the retailer has said it will begin only delivering to over-65s to make sure they get what they need. Furthermore, the group is strongly encouraging the use of card payments, to reduce cash handling.

Carrefour Italia launched a new service called Gli Essenziali, which offers free delivery on pre-packaged boxes that contain essential food and non-food products. The service aims to be delivered in four working days in most Italian regions. The retailer has pledged to donate €1 from each kit sold to the Italian civil defence.

Gli Essenziali pre-packaged kits are priced vary from €59 to €79 and look to supply enough food for two to four people. The boxes available vary to suit a variety of shopper demands including:  

  • ‘Vegetariano’ kits, which include food essentials for vegetarians, available for €69
  • The ‘Mare’ kits cater to those who favour fish products and costs €69
  • ‘Terra’ kits includes meat items along with selected fresh, items such as vegetables and potatoes, available for €69
  • ‘Baby’ kits are available from €79 and consist of diapers, wipes, soap, cream and powdered milk
  • ‘Bambino’ kits are also priced at €79 comprised of diapers, wipes, baby food, powdered milk, biscuits, pastries and rice cream
  • ‘Cura Casa e Persona’ kits contain hygiene products for €59 and include shampoos, conditioner, bath foam, toilet paper, kitchen towel rolls, handkerchiefs, detergents and cleaning products

SPAR Italia

SPAR Italia is committed to remaining open and providing shoppers with regular trading hours. SPAR announced ‘DESPAR Aspiag has implemented all protective measures and guidelines issued by Italy’s Ministry of Health and local authorities since the beginning of the outbreak in Italy in February’.

To protect its members of staff the group has postposed non-urgent training, business meetings, trips, staff recruitment and job interviews.

Source: SPAR International

Aldi Italia

Aldi announced it is limiting the amount of shoppers in-store at any one time and has added distancing measures on the floor to highlight the one metre distance people are advised in the country to stand apart from each other.

Meanwhile, the retailer also increased the sanitation surfaces in all stores and fitted plexiglass panels to protect employees. Separately, Aldi has installed hand sanitiser outside stores to increase the awareness of the need for sanitising and for the protection of shoppers and staff alike.

Source: Aldi Italia


Finiper-owned Iper announced, it has partnered with entrepreneurs Marco Brunelli and Esmeralda Gerli to donate €1.5m to the Sacco hospital.

Iper has launched, in partnership with the Municipality of Varese and the City Civil Protection, a home delivery service for over 75’s who are unfortunate to have no help from family members or neighbours.


Conad has introduced measures to protect staff and its shoppers. The Italian government has distributed shopping vouchers to families facing financial difficulties. Conad has responded to the scheme by applying a further 10% discount on purchases made by families using the shopping vouchers.

Furthermore, during March 2020 Conad also implemented the following measurements:

  • Conad-owned Margherita Distribution has donated €1m the Pascale hospital in Naples
  • Conad has reduced shopping hours, it announced it closed on Sunday 22 and will do the same on 29 March 2020

Other retail initiatives

  • Coop launched an initiative to halt price rises on all packaged goods for two months, to create price stability. The retailer claims the measure has been introduced to protect Italian suppliers and members of the cooperative
  • Unes supermarket has reduced its opening hours across all stores, to enable shelves to be re-stocked
  • Unes is closing stores during the Easter period to recognise the need for employees to devote time to their families

Looking for more COVID-19 insight?

Get the latest insights on Coronavirus (COVID-19) to help your business understand what the food and grocery industry is doing around the world to address the evolving pandemic.