Gardners has suspended taking new orders and the Hive website is closed due to concerns over worker safety, while the Waterstones website is also experiencing delays.
Nigel Wyman, head of business development at Gardners, said it was becoming increasingly difficult to provide its usual service and the safety of its workforce was the “primary reason” Gardners had temporaily suspended taking new orders.
He said: “It is with great sadness that we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily suspend taking new orders for physical product at Gardners due to the current coronavirus virus pandemic, however our digital services will be unaffected. We will be working hard to clear all outstanding orders over the coming days, so any existing orders should be processed.
“We have continued over the past few weeks providing our usual high quality service to the book and entertainment trades around the world, however this is becoming increasingly more difficult as this crisis develops. The safety and well-being of our amazing workforce is the primary reason for making this decision.
“We will be looking to see what key services we can turn back on as soon as possible, and will be updating all our customers and suppliers on regular basis as to the progress we are making.”
Customers visiting Hive, a key supporter of indie bookshops, this morning (30th March) found a message on the homepage saying: “We're closed, but hopefully not for long.”
The website, run by Gardners, told customers it was not accepting any more orders at the moment because of "unprecedented demand".
Meanwhile, the Waterstones website has also warned readers about potential delays because of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The retailer, which closed all its stores last week, told customers in a statement online: “Please note our bookshops normally process many of our online orders. Such orders are now being rediverted to our warehouse which may result in a short but additional delay. We are extremely grateful to the Royal Mail who are working incredibly hard to support this temporary disruption to our service.
“Thank you all for your patience and support in these unprecedented times.”
A spokesperson for the chain said it was working hard to get orders out as quickly as possible. They said: “We are much busier than usual on our website, and with our shops being temporarily closed we don’t have the support from ship from shop services. We are operating with a reduced workforce and additional safeguards at our warehouse to ensure social distancing measures, and Royal Mail is currently experiencing exceptional volumes.
"However, our teams are working hard to get orders delivered as quickly as possible and continue to serve our customers’ reading needs.”