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March 3, 2020

Coronavirus: More Retail Updates

MNB rounds up highlights on the coronavirus's effects on retail so far: "The Wall Street Journal reports that "supermarkets and other retailers are preparing for a surge in demand and shoppers are stocking up on staple foods and cleaning supplies as more cases of the new coronavirus appear in the US … Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. said it has seen greater demand for products including face masks and hand sanitizers at many stores and online. Home Depot Inc. said it had halted online orders for face masks and was limiting purchases at its stores to 10 per customer."• Also from the Journal: "Raley’s Supermarkets, which operates about 120 stores in Northern California, said it is working to increase the availability of hand sanitizer, tissue, disinfectants and other cleaning and hygiene products. The chain said it is in discussions with suppliers to ensure the availability of these products. A spokeswoman said Raley’s hasn’t experienced shortages of any foods it sells."Another California chain, Smart & Final Stores Inc., said it is taking directions on how to respond to the epidemic from the CDC and trade groups. Meijer Inc., a Midwestern chain of more than 200 stores, said it is focused on maintaining stock in sanitizers and antibacterial wipes. Discount grocer Save A Lot said it is working with suppliers to prevent potential disruptions to its supply chain." From the Seattle Times:"E-commerce delivery, which has grown rapidly in the past two decades, could take on an even bigger role with a population that appears increasingly uneasy about going out in public. "While many physical retailers were jammed and running out of items including toilet paper, medicines, water and bananas, other shoppers sought to avoid the stores altogether, relying instead on services such as Amazon and Instacart. As the outbreak worsens, more people may turn to e-commerce, analysts and survey data suggest … More than 27% of 1,121 U.S. internet users surveyed by Coresight Research in late February said they were already avoiding public places such as shopping centers and entertainment venues, while 58% said at the time they would do so if the outbreak worsened."• Bloomberg reports that "Prime Now and Amazon Fresh delivery services have been overwhelmed by demand, a sign that virus-spooked shoppers are turning to the world’s largest online retailer to avoid going to brick-and-mortar stores … Amazon on Monday warned customers that both services would have limited availability, meaning orders are being delivered more slowly than usual. The company hasn’t reduced the number of people or trucks dedicated to either service, but it has seen a surge in demand that’s straining its delivery capacity, according to a person familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly about the issue""...

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