Majestic Wines has closed its doors to walk in customers, and even stopped taking orders the day before the British lockdown began due to unprecedented levels of demand which continued to take its website down intermittently for days. 

As the lockdown of the UK has continued, the British public have shown the importance of the wine industry with their spending habits, clearing out supermarket shelves before moving onto online retailers. It’s been felt across the market, with other wine merchants also taking their business offline to deal with vast existing orders.

In a statement, Majestic said: “We currently have a large backlog of orders we are working through, and you will be able to order directly through your local store by email or placing an order online shortly. We will also be keeping our landlines open to each branch, but would ask that this option is only used by vulnerable people and those who are self-isolating.

“We will be providing all staff with personal protective equipment, including latex gloves, facemasks and sanitiser, so that they can continue to fulfil orders safely. We will also be limiting the number of staff to a maximum safe number per store (including delivery drivers). 

“We retain the right to close any of our branches at any point, if we feel it is the safe thing to do.”

Meanwhile, the Wine Society chose to close its business completely, with its CEO Steve Finlan explaining in a statement: “I have taken the decision to stop taking new orders and also to stop making deliveries with immediate effect. The Prime Minister’s statement was very clear that the single most important action we can all take in fighting coronavirus is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives. 

“I wholeheartedly support the need to do this and as a result we need our employees to stay at home. Many of our employees are already working from home, but this latest development means that our warehouse and transport operations will now be suspended. 

“Many of you will be disappointed and some may not agree with our decision, but it is simply impossible for us to argue that it is worth putting our employees at risk in order to deliver a non-essential service. I believe that this is the responsible action to take right now and I hope that most of you will agree. 

I am extremely sorry that this will mean that we are unable to fulfil outstanding orders for the time being. It is uncertain exactly how long this position will prevail.”