This spring, demand at online retailers, food distributors, health supply companies, and delivery services soared. Retail giants Amazon and Walmart hired thousands of new workers. What caused the sudden changes in consumer behavior? The novel coronavirus kept people at home—and gave them plenty of time and reason to shop online.
During the pandemic, home delivery of groceries and prepared meals became important to many Americans. Soon after the COVID-19 outbreak started, Sandie Nierenberg knew it was time to avoid supermarkets. She began ordering her groceries online. Nierenberg says the grocery store “was a madhouse, and it was crowds of people and everybody coughing.” She began ordering all her groceries on Instacart, an online delivery service. She hoped to reduce her family’s possible exposure to the virus—and other people’s exposure to her family.
The more governments called for social distancing, the more consumers turned to online delivery apps. Instacart, Walmart Grocery, and Shipt all saw high demand for their services.
In places where they weren’t shut down completely, many restaurants offered take-out and delivery meals. There was also an increase in orders from meal-delivery apps such as GrubHub, DoorDash, and Uber Eats. These allowed people to avoid crowds and risk of contact with the virus.
During the height of the virus concerns, a surge of orders put Amazon’s sleek systems under pressure. The company’s hoard of cleaning products and toilet paper ran low. The company worked to focus on stocking and delivering essentials such as medical supplies, hand sanitizers, and baby formula.
Amazon needed more workers to handle the extra business. Already the second-largest U.S.-based employer behind Walmart, Amazon employed nearly 800,000 workers worldwide. Yet it sought to hire 100,000 additional people.
While most of the globe stayed home because of the virus, Amazon workers reported to warehouses, delivery centers, and Whole Foods grocery stores.
The Bible holds that workers deserve fair pay. (Matthew 10:10, Luke 10:7) Amazon officials realized that laborers old and new deserved a good salary—one that reflected the potential health sacrifices they made and their value to the company. Amazon gave its hourly workers a two-dollar-per-hour pay bump.
Sadly, not all the hiring choices were because of demand. “Some of our hiring is to manage risk,” Sean Vanderelzen, a human resources officer, told The New York Times. Employers “expect that some people will be quarantined or have to leave because of the virus.”