MILAN — Due to the coronavirus outbreak that has hit Italy’s Lombardy region, Milan citizens have been advised by local and national authorities to avoid crowded places and therefore have been obliged to change their daily habits.
With several companies closing their offices and asking employees to work from home, all the gyms and sports clubs shut down until at least March 8, and a range of beauty centers, mostly operated by Chinese entrepreneurs, closed, Milanese consumers are finding online and on-demand services a vital option for sticking to their routines.
For example, hair and beauty on-demand service Madame Miranda, the Italian version of Glamsquad, is registering a boom in requests. “Last week, and again this week, our services in Milan have been sold out, which happens only during very specific moments of the year, such as fashion week or design week,” said Diamante Rossetti, who cofounded Madame Miranda with Gioia Fiorani three years ago. “In addition, with many offices closed and people working from home, we are getting requests for appointments scheduled throughout the day and not only before or after work.”
According to Rossetti, booking requests are coming not only for already registered users, which are around 50,000, but also from new clients. “Last week, our customer service also received a lot of information requests about our observance of hygiene rules, which we have further strengthened, if possible, to make both our clients and employees feel comfortable and safe.”
The customer service operation of another popular on-demand service in Milan, MamaClean, which offers dry-cleaning with pickup and drop-off at home or at the office, received the same type of information requests last week. “The plus of our service is that we can guarantee levels of hygiene that are almost impossible at home and at the same time people don’t need to queue in the store, which is something to be avoided in these times,” said MamaClean founder Francesco Malmusi.
But while during the year the requests are linked mostly to dry-cleaning of officewear, in the past week users mainly asked for the pickup of home-related products, such as duvets and bed sheets.
Yoga à Porter, which was founded three years ago by Marta Castronuovo, saw booking requests spike since the coronavirus outbreak. “While most of the Milan-based yoga studios reacted to the government ordinance by starting to give online classes, we can keep offering personalized, no-stress and efficient classes at home, giving the right type of customized support to our students,” said Castronuovo, adding that she is receiving a lot of requests also for shiatsu and ayurvedic treatments.
Second-hand shopping platform Vestiaire Collective also saw an increase in orders from Italy last week.
“We have experienced a spike in sales on the Italian site over the last week; this has seen orders up over almost 50 percent versus the last six weeks,” said Vestiaire Collective cofounder Fanny Moizant. “At the same time, we have also expanded the percentage of our inventory that is available through our Direct Shipping service so we believe that the increase is partly driven by this along with many customers in the region switching to e-commerce platforms for their shopping needs.”
The situation seems to be different for the delivery of cooked meals. With Milan citizens spending more time at home, limiting their visits to restaurants and bars, it seems that they are rediscovering the pleasure of cooking their own food.
Following the virus outbreak, last week northern Italy’s high-end supermarket Esselunga saw the volume of online orders five times higher than during regular weeks. However, a spokesman for a popular meal-delivery service, who asked to remain anonymous, said this sector’s business is going through a difficult period.