As the fast-spreading coronavirus changes daily life and affects every industry sector, businesses are finding new ways to stay afloat and keep customers fed and entertained.
With the closure of nearly all casinos nationwide, the online gambling trade group iDevelopment & Economic Association (iDEA) is asking states to free up restrictions so casinos can replace some revenue lost from shutting doors — and help refill state tax coffers, The Wall Street Journal reported. Digital casino gambling is allowed in six states; the 14 states with pending legislation have postponed legislative sessions. The industry group asked governors to consider using emergency powers to green-light online casinos. John Pappas, a lobbyist for iDEA, said online casinos won’t be a cure-all, but “in the face of closures like this, it underscores the need for the industry to also have an eCommerce platform.”
Meanwhile, retailers have been advertising price cuts, steep discounts and free shipping in an effort to stimulate eCommerce sales, according to Reuters. Most merchants across the country have been forced to close physical stores in the wake of the coronavirus and are anxious to make more online sales. People still need to eat, but many can’t or don’t want to go into supermarkets, and with less drivers — and stock — due to the pandemic and early hoarding, deliveries are taking longer.
In other news, Kraft Heinz said it has stepped up production of necessities and has been in discussions with Amazon and Walmart every day to get food to people’s homes faster, Reuters reported. “Amazon and Walmart and the others have faced a huge increase in demand,” Kraft Heinz CEO Miguel Patricio said. “I think the bottle-neck is being able to deliver to people’s homes, not production.”
On another note, the New York City restaurant industry is taking a big hit as take-out and delivery replace seating and bars, leading to mass layoffs of servers, bartenders and related personnel, according to a CNBC report. Some restaurants have closed altogether for the foreseeable future after takeout and delivery didn’t bring in enough revenue to cover daily overhead. Others didn’t bother offering take-out or delivery since revenue mostly came from live music and drinks. “You can’t deliver live jazz or handcrafted cocktails,” said Andrew Castelli, owner of Penny Jo’s and Uptown Bourbon.
Meanwhile, as more people hunker down in their living rooms for work, the demand for home office equipment has escalated, prompting Best Buy to move to curbside pickup only at all of its stores, according to CNBC. Online orders will still be shipped directly to customers’ homes, but there will be no in-home installations or repairs. “As we meet the demand for these necessities, we are adjusting how we operate in many ways to improve safety,” said Best Buy CEO Corie Barry.
In other news, Amazon is upping overtime pay for its warehouse workforce through May 9 as the world’s biggest eCommerce firm struggles to meet growing customer demands due to the coronavirus, according to The Verge. After 40 hours of work, employees will receive double time instead of the usual time-and-a-half. The move follows a letter sent to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos from four senators — Cory Booker and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and U.S. presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders of Vermont — citing concerns about Amazon’s employees during this crisis. “My own time and thinking is now wholly focused on COVID-19 and on how Amazon can best play its role,” Bezos said on the company’s website.
As of Sunday (March 22), confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide hit nearly 336,000 with more than 14,600 reported deaths. In the U.S., there are more than 33,200 confirmed cases and more than 400 deaths.