Officials at e-tailer Amazon said over the weekend that customers should expect some delays as the company works diligently to fill a surge of orders likely tied to the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).
The warning comes even as officials claimed they were preparing to hire as many as 100,000 new warehouse workers — but without any mention of how that’s going to happen if nationwide quarantines or localized shutdowns occur to curb the virus’ spread.
As reported by The Epoch Times, company officials noted that some items are already going out of stock in response to increased demand.
“In particular, you will notice that we are currently out of stock on some popular brands and items, especially in household staples categories,” Amazon wrote in a blog post on Saturday.
Meanwhile, other promised deliveries could now take longer to get to customers.
“We are working around the clock with our selling partners to ensure availability on all of our products, and bring on additional capacity to deliver all of your orders,” said the Seattle-based company.
Amazon also noted that it would be monitoring its sales platform for signs of sellers hawking shortage items like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and water at inflated prices to take advantage of customers.
“We’re also working to ensure that no one artificially raises prices on basic need products during this pandemic and have blocked or removed tens of thousands of items, in line with our long-standing policy. We actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policy,” the blog post noted.
In order to keep its own employees safe and to protect shipments, Amazon said it was undertaking improved “daily cleaning procedures” and doing cleaning nightly as well.
“In addition to serving our retail customers, we’re making sure Amazon Web Services customers have the tools and support they need to keep their businesses and organizations moving forward safely and efficiently,” said the company.
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon would surge-hire an additional 100,000 warehouse workers and delivery personnel as well as bump up pay by $2 per hour in order to meet demand.
The paper added:
The tech giant’s decision to go on a hiring spree and boost worker pay shows the dual challenge companies such as Amazon face as they seek to meet surging demand for food and key household items and also take care of employees at the front lines of the pandemic.
The decision to hire more personnel comes amid measures taken by several states — including Washington, where Amazon is based — to lock down cities and limit residents’ activities due to the virus. (Related: Report: US will be overwhelmed with coronavirus cases, virus testing FAILING.)
That’s what makes Amazon’s decision to hire more people a risk: What happens if they get sick? Will entire distribution centers have to be shuttered? And that’s if the company can even find enough workers who aren’t already in cities where mayors have ordered near-complete shutdowns like New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
On Monday, President Trump stopped short of issuing a national lockdown order but did introduce “guidelines” that Americans, some businesses, and state leaders should follow in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
They include some now-familiar suggestions like shuttering restaurants and bars and using drive-up and/or delivery instead; staying indoors if you feel sick; staying away from nursing homes where older, more vulnerable people reside; washing hands; and avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people.
The problem for Amazon will come when even more people are added to the company’s warehouses at a time when infection rates have yet to peak. If distribution centers begin to shutter because of the virus, then shortages will only get worse and people more desperate.