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Game retail in the UK moves online as Government orders closure of non-essential stores

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Yesterday the UK government ordered all non-essential retail stores to close for the next three weeks. This is part of the country’s increasing efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The order was made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night. Stores that are not essential to daily life, such as electronics and clothing stores, must close for the next three weeks. This should help limit the number of people going to shops in general, since the only reasons that anyone in the UK should be leaving their home now are for exercise once a day, food, or medical supplies.

Most of the UK’s game retail chains had already made the decision to close stores for the foreseeable future, but this order ensures that all of them do. Following the confirmation of all Belong Arenas being closed, UK retailer GAME has announced that all of their stores are now closed, though their online business remains open as normal.

The retailer’s owner, Sports Digital, has claimed that they will remain open for now, since people are allowed to leave their homes for exercise and need equipment for that. However, the BBC has now received confirmation that they will close their doors until the government says otherwise. The only stores still open are the ones on the government’s approved list, such as bicycle shops.

CEX, another UK electronics retailer, has also confirmed that they are closing all of their stores. They will also be operating a normal online service only for the time being. The chain’s Managing Director, David Mullins, attempted to implement sensible guidelines in order to keep stores open, but admitted that they simply weren’t effective in the end.

Mullins explained that the weekend proved how difficult it is to maintain safe social distancing whilst running a busy store. While CEX is a chain with franchises run by independent managers, Mullins has encouraged them to follow suit and close up for now too.

Currys PC World finally closed their doors yesterday as well. While they do have an online service that is still operational, they’ve warned that delivery times may be longer than expected due to an increase in usage for the next three weeks.

All standalone Argos stores will close, but those embedded within Sainsbury’s supermarkets will remain open. Given that there will be customers using the supermarket throughout the next three weeks, this seems like a sensible decision, as long as lines don’t get too long.

All of this leaves supermarkets as the only places where games can be physically purchased in the UK. However, even these stores are encouraging customers to only come in when necessary, and avoid non-essential trips.

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