Greggs forced to close branches amid IT issue

Greggs is the latest in a string of retailers hit by IT problems that have caused major disruption

Greggs bakery chain has had to close some outlets and go cash-only after an IT problem meant it could not accept card payments, adding to a string of recent retail IT outages.

This follows a global IT outage last week that forced fast food giant McDonald’s to temporarily suspend operations in multiple countries and problems at UK supermarket chains in recent days.

Greggs said it has resolved the tech payments problem and expects a full resolution soon.

A company spokesperson said: “We have now resolved the technical issue that affected tills in some of our shops earlier this morning. The majority of shops affected are now able to take card and cash payments again, and we expect the issue to be fully resolved shortly. We apologise for the inconvenience this may have caused to our customers.”

Closures were reported in Newcastle, London, Cardiff and Manchester.

Last week, McDonalds apologised to customers after a global tech outage meant outlets were closed and there was disruption to people ordering on its app.

McDonald’s global CIO Brian Rice said the outage was “quickly identified and corrected” and reaffirmed that it was “not directly caused by a cyber security event”.

“Reliability and stability of our technology are a priority, and I know how frustrating it can be when there are outages. I understand that this impacts you, your restaurant teams and our customers,” said Rice, addressing the organisation’s global employees, franchise holders and other partners.

High street supermarket chains Sainsbury’s and Tesco also suffered IT problems over the weekend. According to reports, Sainsbury’s customers could not make contactless payments and many online deliveries were cancelled following an overnight software update. Tesco was also forced to cancel some online orders booked for delivery on Saturday, due to an IT failure.

Louisa Chambers, a partner in the technology and commercial transactions department at law firm Travers Smith, said recent outages taking down payment processing systems at major high street retailers demonstrate very clearly how much of our day-to-day lives – and our economy – depend on the tech that underpins retail payments. 

“Retailers place their trust in the providers of these services and it is critical they ensure that contracts for the supply of these services are robust, contain strong service level commitments and have meaningful consequences if those are not met. The contracts then have to be properly policed to make sure businesses and consumers are not continually let down.”

Retailers are becoming more reliant on IT to enable payments and online shopping. The problems, which resulted in some outlets reverting to cash, highlight the continued importance of cash, which is being used less and less.

There was a dramatic drop in the use of cash when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK, according to a survey from Nationwide Building Society. The results revealed that ATM withdrawals dropped by 40% from 44.5 million in 2019 to 26.4 million in 2020.

Although there has been a recovery in the use of cash in the UK, fears remain that its use will dwindle to nothing in the digital age.

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