2/5/2009 10:53:00 AM
300 stores closed as snow hits mobile retail
Snow filled roads, freezing weather conditions and the collapse of many parts of the rail and tube networks caused at least 300 stores in the mobile industry to either not open, or have very limited trading hours on Monday this week.
Stores were left unopened all over the country, with the south-east of England particularly affected, when key holders couldn’t beat transport problems and get to stores.
Virtually all stores across the country were either closed all day, opened late or closed up early, posing an unwelcome new problem for struggling retailers.
Customers appeared to completely desert high streets and shopping centres.
Staff who did make it to stores said they were left admiring the adverse weather, with at least one Carphone Warehouse store indulging in making a snowman, and a Vodafone store and an Orange store in the Midlands breaking into a snowball fight on the high street.
Carphone saw over 100 of its 800 stores either closed or close early with delays on deliveries.
O2 said around 65 stores were closed or closed early. A salesperson in one northern region said: ‘We shut all the stores in our area because the stores were dead.’
Meanwhile, Vodafone had shut a third of its London stores – the most affected region – with 24 stores closed in the south-east. Many more of its 363 stores were closed elsewhere in the country. Staff have been instructed that their point of sale material is likely to be delayed in light of problems on the roads.
Orange shut 40 stores in the south-east, and a further six in central England. One Orange staffer said the best performing store in his
region sold just four contracts on Monday.
3 had nine stores closed all day, with other stores allowed to leave at 3pm.
Phones 4u claimed that only 12 stores out of 452 were reported to have been closed, although staff in one south London region claimed four out of 17 were shut. He also claimed only one store in his region hit the daily target.
A spokeswoman said: ‘Some stores were quieter than normal’. One Phones 4u staffer said: ‘There was no way I was getting in. I couldn’t see the wheels of my car.’
All companies said trading resumed as normal the next day, but remarked it was likely to be one of the worst ever for trading. Many staffers said they still enjoyed the snow.