By Tonya Garcia, MarketWatch
Amazon.com Inc. says shoppers should expect more “out-of-stocks” on household staples and longer delivery times due to heightened demand during the coronavirus outbreak.
The company warns that some deliveries will exceed the usual Prime member promise of one-day delivery.
For those customers concerned about social distancing during delivery, Amazon /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN +0.98% says customers can ask for an “unattended delivery” for all items ordered on Prime Now, Whole Foods Market and Amazon Fresh, except alcohol.
Amazon is experiencing what many traditional retailers have been trying to manage in bricks-and-mortar stores: high demand for coronavirus-related items including disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and paper towels.
Amazon also says it’s taking action against price gouging, removing offers that violate its policies.
And in its stores, there are additional measures to clean and sanitize various surfaces.
The pandemic has prompted a number of retailers, from Starbucks Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207508890/composite SBUX +1.20% to Target Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207799045/composite TGT -1.29% and Walmart Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207374728/composite WMT +0.90% , to take increased cleaning measures, put limits on the amount of certain items individual shoppers can purchase and close locations or reduce hours out of heightened caution.
Nike Inc. /zigman2/quotes/203439053/composite NKE -1.78% , Lululemon Athletica Inc. /zigman2/quotes/204011506/composite LULU -2.77% and Under Armour Inc. /zigman2/quotes/208967132/composite UA -0.44% /zigman2/quotes/204420722/composite UAA -0.70% are among the brands that have closed stores in North America and other regions.
Amazon has canceled fulfillment center tours, large events and is doing virtual interviews in place of face-to-face meetings.
Amazon workers have been instructed to work from home if possible. Those who cannot are still eligible for their usual paid and unpaid time-off benefits. Anyone testing positive for Covid-19 will receive up to two weeks pay while in quarantine and unlimited unpaid time off for hourly employees through the end of March.
The Amazon Relief Fund, launched with a $25 million contribution, will help seasonal workers, drivers and others in financial distress. Applicants can apply for grants starting at $400 and reaching up to $5,000.
The Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund has also been launched with $5 million to help small businesses that are struggling during the outbreak. The company has also donated $1 million to the Seattle Foundation fund, which helps nonprofits and community members. Locally, the company says it’s also donating gift cards and other resources like baby items.
Amazon is also making access to sponsored content on its Amazon Future Engineer program available to kids from the 6th through 12th grades as schools are disrupted nationwide. Content focuses on computer science topics.
Amazon stock is up nearly 3% over the past year. The S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.15% as fallen 13.3% for the last 12 months.