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Amazon Is Restocking Only Essential Products, Suspending Other Supplier Shipments to Warehouses

E-commerce giant also seeks to hire 100,000 U.S. temp workers to meet demand

Amazon Distribution Center
FRIEDEMANN VOGEL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Amazon, dealing with a crush of online orders spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, said it will temporarily halt product shipment from suppliers that fall outside certain categories of high-demand and essential goods.

Amazon has told suppliers that it will not be accepting shipments to its warehouses in the U.S., Europe and other territories until at least April 5 for many products, in order to free up space for critical medical supplies and household products during the COVID-19 crisis.

According to notice to suppliers from the internet retailer, the product categories Amazon is restocking from suppliers are: groceries, health and household items, baby products, beauty and personal care (including personal care appliances), industrial and scientific products, and pet supplies. Books also are included, per Reuters.

“We believe our role serving customers and the community during this time is a critical one, and we want to make sure our customers can get the items they need, when they need them,” Amazon said in a statement Tuesday. “So in the short term, we are making the decision to temporarily prioritize household staples, medical supplies and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so we can more quickly receive, restock and ship these products to customers.”

Amazon customers can continue to purchase other non-essential products, but those shipments may be delayed or will need to be shipped directly from a supplier. The company is encouraging customers who order items that they don’t need immediately to choose the “No-Rush Shipping” option, which lets Amazon consolidate orders and make fewer stops in neighborhoods — and deliver high-priority items faster.

On Monday, Amazon announced that it is seeking to hire some 100,000 additional full- and part-time workers to handle the surge in online orders in the U.S. alone. The company said it will boost its minimum wages by $2 per hour in the U.S. (to $17 per hour) through April for all employees, with similar raises in Canada, the U.K., and Europe; according to Amazon, that represents a $350 million investment worldwide.

“We are seeing a significant increase in demand, which means our labor needs are unprecedented for this time of year,” Amazon SVP of operations Dave Clark said in a statement. “We are opening 100,000 new full and part-time positions across the U.S. in our fulfillment centers and delivery network to meet the surge in demand from people relying on Amazon’s service during this stressful time, particularly those most vulnerable to being out in public.”

Amazon is taking additional steps in its facilities to protect workers from COVID-19 exposure, including measures to promote “social distancing” in the workplace and enhanced and more frequent cleaning, according to Clark.

In addition, Amazon says it is policing its online store 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 longstanding policy.”