Reports are circulating in the media that Amazon is considering postponing its popular Prime Day because of the coronavirus crisis, says USA Today. The massive online sale, sometimes referred to as Black Friday in July, started in 2015 to reward Prime members and attract new ones with great deals on millions of items. Because the membership event has been so successful for the online retailer and its merchants, Amazon has continued the sale each year in July. This year it could be postponed into August or beyond, according to internal notes obtained by USA Today, Reuters and Vice. Amazon has not confirmed, nor denied, the news.
“We probably have to promote sooner, which will be difficult if we’re capacity constrained,” General Counsel David Zapolsky wrote in notes from a daily meeting of Amazon executives. The notes said this would result in a $300 million impact “worst case,” with a $100 million hit being more likely, said Reuters.
Last year’s Prime Day extended from 24 to 48 hours, and it was the company’s most successful shopping event in company history. In two days, members in 18 countries bought more than 175 million items, including everything from clothing and electronics to groceries and beauty products. Prime Day 2019 was also the biggest sales event ever for Amazon devices.
If the event is so successful, why would Amazon consider postponing it? COVID-19 has changed the entire economic landscape of our country. It is hard to predict what the impacts will be a month from now, much less in July or August. As things stand right now, Amazon is in the process of hiring 100,000 U.S. workers to try to fill the demand for fulfilling and delivering orders and it has offered a $2 per hour incentive. Its focus is on that right now, not on preparing for a summer shopping event.
In addition, the coronavirus pandemic has had other impacts that Amazon is dealing with. At the Staten Island, New York fulfillment center, workers walked off the job, complaining about working conditions and worker safety. Christian Smalls, one of the organizers of that walkout, was later fired. Employees at more than 50 Amazon fulfillment centers have now tested positive for COVID-19, according to Business Insider. A second walkout is now in the works. Workers want the warehouses with confirmed cases of employees with the coronavirus to be temporarily shut down and properly sanitized.
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Amazon disputes the claims that they are not concerned about worker safety. According to an April 2 blog post, Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations for Amazon, said the company has implemented 150 process changes as a result of the coronavirus. This includes checking the temperatures of employees, providing personal protective equipment to Amazon workers, ensuring that social distancing is possible throughout Amazon facilities, and following WHO and CDC guidelines for cleaning and sanitation.
“Given the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, we are committed to continue making adjustments to our business as we learn more,” said Amazon in a March 24 blog post. “We have increased the frequency and intensity of cleaning at all sites, including regular sanitization of door handles, handrails, touch screens, scanners, and other frequently touched areas. We’re also requiring employees and delivery service partners to clean and disinfect their work stations.”
Amazon certainly has its hands full as a result of the coronavirus. It seems like planning Prime Day is the least of the company’s worries right now. Whenever they choose to hold it, Prime members will eagerly participate, especially since each year seems to get bigger and better. Last year, for example, Amazon kicked off the shopping extravaganza with a star-studded, live, online concert headlined by Taylor Swift. We can’t wait to see what they have in store this year – no matter when it is.