In China’s Wuhan district, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, many residents are not allowed to leave their homes, much less go out shopping. And even if they could, many stores are closed. This has caused a spike in online delivery services for companies like JD.com, because the government is allowing home delivery to continue, albeit with some stipulations, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
Zhang Hao is a driver who rides around on a moped delivering various supplies to residents around the city, but he has to wear full protective gear, and some recipients treat him like he has the virus himself. One woman made him put down a package and walk away before she sprayed it with disinfectant.
Some delivery companies ask drivers to take their temperature twice a day, and drop off packages at doorsteps or gates. Zhang said he feels the weighted mood of the environment, and that while he’s worried, the work is steady and good.
“I am feeling some pressure for sure,” he said. He adds that he hasn’t seen his six-year-old daughter in six months due to the coronavirus crisis, although they talk on the phone regularly. It’s the bright spot of his day, he said.
There are almost 60 million residents in the province of Hubei and its capital, Wuhan, and the region has the majority of the tens of thousands of coronavirus cases in China.
Some communities have designated drivers that pick supplies up for hundreds of people.
“I don’t remember how many runs I made,” said Li Haoping, a driver.
Some analysts don’t think revenue will be affected for delivery companies, as demand for smaller ticket items may very well compensate for big ticket ones.
“There’s probably a shift from some categories to other categories, from apparel to more consumer staples,” said David Dai, an analyst at Bernstein. He also said that the epidemic could eventually, in the long run, speed up people’s shift to online purchasing.