As the US surpasses China in the highest number of coronavirus infections worldwide, economists are raising concerns of massive bankruptcies, as well as supply shock and demand problems for the world's largest consumer market.
However, not everyone is losing money, analysts say, pointing to large e-commerce firms that are making money out of the crisis as people are confined to their homes.
According to Morgan Stanley analysts, American retailers are experiencing a real boom. In the first weeks of March, retail sales of food products increased sharply by eight percent, which is an unprecedented growth for such business. Moreover, it is possible that growth will continue at double digits, the bank predicts.
Rating agency Moody's said that "retailers such as supermarkets, pharmacies, shops and grocery stores are going to benefit, as consumers will stock up on food and other necessities." It added that retailers who had developed an online sales platform before the crisis have benefited greatly. Thanks to this, operating income at food stores such as Whole Foods (owned by Amazon), Walmart, and Kroger has grown significantly as consumers try to avoid shopping.
Of all these retailers, "Amazon, I would say, is the strongest," Gary Korolev, sovereign US private equity manager, told RIA Novosti.
He noted that Amazon offers a range of basic-needs' products and services for customers locked at home, such as entertainment (movies, books), food delivery and essential goods. At the same time, it is Amazon that has the most developed network of delivery centers throughout America, Korolev said. The company, which is currently experiencing rapid growth, plans to hire 100,000 new workers to collect, pack and deliver orders.
In a memo to Amazon employees last week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said that "my own time and thinking is now wholly focused on Covid-19 and on how Amazon can best play its role."
On Wednesday, attorneys of 32 US states asked Bezos to tighten control over price inflation for essentials on his platform.According to the research group US PIRG, prices for one out of six products sold directly through Amazon rose 50 percent during the epidemic. In some cases, the price has grown tenfold. Thus, the price for a bottle of sanitizer, has skyrocketed from $25 to $250. Bezos gave his assurance that he was taking all the necessary measures to prevent price inflation.