The lockdown forced by the coronavirus continues to be a driving force for Amazon, which saw its profit triple from a year ago. Those profits are expected to continue even as the company spends billions of dollars dealing with COVID-19.
Net income for the third quarter rose to $6.3 billion, or $12.37 a share, from $2.1 billion, or $4.23 a share, a year ago, despite spending around $2.5 billion dealing with the global pandemic. The online retailing giant also posted revenue that rose 37% to $96.1 billion. Excluding foreign exchange rate changes, the increase was still 36% over a year ago.
Wall Street expected Amazon would maintain its strong momentum in the third quarter, with the e-commerce juggernaut making billions more dollars during the pandemic as customers used its site to avoid going to stores. Amazon wasn’t the only online retailer benefiting from this trend, with Etsy, Walmart, Target and Wayfair all seeing big sales increases too. While the latest quarter didn’t include Prime Day — which was delayed to the fourth quarter and ran from Oct. 13 to 14 — Amazon was still predicted to post a 32% rise in revenue thanks to a surge in demand all year.
Amazon is now poised to exit the pandemic — whenever that may be — as a bigger and more powerful entity in retail, especially as dozens of traditional merchants like Lord & Taylor and Aldo have gone into bankruptcy protection this year. This dynamic will benefit Amazon’s revenue growth, but it creates other problems. Millions of consumers, now habituated to using Amazon, may find fewer shopping options, making it easier for Amazon to raise prices if it decides to do so.
For the fourth quarter, Amazon said it expects sales to range between $112 billion and $121 billion, or growth of 28% to 38% vs. a year ago. Analysts expected the company to post $112.3 billion in revenue in the period, according to Yahoo Finance.
Amazon shares fell 2.1% to $3,145 in after-hours trading.
For Amazon, getting bigger may invite even more scrutiny, with elected officials and regulatory agencies in the US already investigating the potential monopoly powers of Big Tech. Last week, the Justice Department sued Google, claiming the company operates a search monopoly. More of these actions against Amazon, Apple and Facebook are widely expected.
That’s why Amazon’s been on a kick to talk about all the good it’s doing for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as its own employees. On Thursday, CEO Jeff Bezos called for other employers to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“Two years ago, we increased Amazon’s minimum wage to $15 for all full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees across the U.S. and challenged other large employers to do the same,” Bezos said in the company’s release. “Best Buy and Target have stepped up, and we hope other large employers will also make the jump to $15. Now would be a great time.”
Amazon started off the pandemic with difficulty, as the company experienced regular delays in its heralded logistics network that frustrated its customers. It also struggled to implement new safety features in its warehouses, as workers repeatedly protested for better protections from the coronavirus. The company spent huge sums of money to tackle these problems, hiring hundreds of thousands of new workers to handle the spike in consumer demand and adding dozens of new safety measures including a testing regime, masks and more rigorous cleanings.
Delays are no longer the norm for Amazon orders but the company disclosed this month that nearly 20,000 US workers contracted COVID-19, a sign that Amazon’s work to contain the virus in its workforce is far from over.
Bezos warned in April that Amazon would spend $4 billion for its coronavirus response in the second quarter, potentially wiping out the company’s profits for that period. Instead, Amazon posted an all-time record profit.
The fourth quarter should show even more strength for the company, with Prime Day adding to Amazon’s typical growth from Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Amazon this month said independent sellers on its platform posted a nearly 60% increase in sales during Prime Day.
Since those sellers account for about 60% of Amazon’s sales, the company likely saw a big increase in this latest Prime Day, putting the company in a good starting point for the holiday season. Edison Trends said Prime Day likely grew by 36% in the US.
Amazon said it expects operating income in the period to be between $1 billion and $4.5 billion, compared with $3.9 billion a year ago. The projection includes $4 billion in costs related to coronavirus.
Halifax police say more fines coming as COVID-19 enforcement ramps up – CBC.ca
Halifax Regional Police are warning people who flout pandemic restrictions they can expect to see more fines given out as the province looks to halt the spread of COVID-19 with tougher measures.
Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said earlier this week police will be stepping up enforcement of COVID-19 regulations, especially illegal gatherings.
That means everyone who walks through the door of a party exceeding the maximum number of guests as outlined by the province will be handed a $1,000 fine — not just the host.
Const. John MacLeod, a spokesperson with the Halifax Regional Police, said the force is making sure that message is heard loud and clear.
“We know that people are not following the rules. And it’s important for us now to start looking at this and to make sure that people can expect to see more fines and increased enforcement,” MacLeod said in a recent interview.
“It’s a very serious time right now, and with this spike in COVID, it’s important that, you know, we do what we can to curb the spread.”
114 active cases in N.S.
Nova Scotia reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the number of total active cases in the province to 114. Most of those cases are in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
The gathering limit for most of Nova Scotia without social distancing is capped at 10 people.
In the Halifax area and parts of Hants County, households can have no more than five visitors at any time, plus however many people reside in the home. The gathering limit in public for those areas is no more than five people, or up to the number of members of immediate family in a household. Those limits are in place until at least Dec. 9.
The new enforcement direction comes after police broke up a Halifax house party with about 60 people in attendance on Nov. 2. A single $1,000 ticket was issued under the Health Protection Act.
More than 500 calls to police this month
MacLeod said police have gotten 4,640 calls on Public Health restrictions, including physical distancing, failing to isolate, illegal gatherings and mask-wearing, between March and this week.
The majority of those calls to Halifax police were made in April, when 929 were logged. In October, there were 690 calls. As of midweek, 563 calls had been made in November.
Although the volume of calls has gone up and down depending on how strict the restrictions are, MacLeod said police are prepared to handle any spike in complaints and will deploy resources as needed to ensure the safety of the public.
Some people have told CBC News they called police to report infractions and were directed to Public Health instead.
MacLeod said enforcement is collaborative and other agencies have been tapped to handle specific aspects of public health measures.
“It really depends on the specific circumstances as to what resources are required,” he said.
Quarantine Act violations
In rural areas of the municipality, RCMP investigate calls regarding COVID-19 regulations and officers determine what actions to follow, said Sgt. Andrew Joyce.
“The new direction has not changed our procedures at this time,” he said.
Between March and Nov. 22, Halifax RCMP received 1,506 COVID-19-related calls, including 768 in regard to the Quarantine Act. The federal act states that travellers entering Canada must isolate for 14 days.
In RCMP jurisdictions outside Halifax, Joyce said about 2,400 calls were received between March and October.
Rural police prepared for possible cases
Outside the Halifax area, police forces in rural parts of the province have all been asked to take the new enforcement direction seriously.
Chief Scott Feener of the Bridgewater Police Service said they mostly see complaints about people not self-isolating or physically distancing, but rarely big gatherings.
“Basically since summer … public response has been exceptional,” Feener said.
The force has only had about 140 calls come in since March regarding COVID-19 issues.
But if COVID cases spread into rural areas like Bridgewater, Feener said police are prepared to make some internal changes around scheduling and other tactics to ensure there are enough officers to respond to calls and reduce possible exposures.
Ottawa outlines its COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan – CBC News: The National
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- Ottawa outlines its COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan CBC News: The National
- Trudeau unable to answer premiers’ questions on coronavirus vaccine rollout: sources Global News
- Canada reaches agreements for 194 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines | News Daily Hive
- EU drugs watchdog expects first application for Covid-19 vaccine in days | Kathimerini www.ekathimerini.com
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How local, online startups are hoping to snatch Black Friday away from the big boys amid COVID-19 – CBC.ca
Black Friday sales on now have traditionally been the domain of big, national chains with beefed-up advertising budgets. But this year, there’s a growing push to make sure that the annual bonanza of consumer spending goes as much as possible to the stores that need it most: small, local retailers.
While overall sales have been recovering from spring lows when the pandemic began, retailers continue to be hit hard by COVID-19. And the threat of low sales lingers, particularly as a new round of lockdowns across much of the country have forced the closure of stores that sell anything deemed non-essential.
Small mom and pop shops have always faced an uphill battle competing with the big boys who have the benefit of huge supply chains to squeeze suppliers, but initiatives across the country this year suggest the little guys are not going down without a fight.
A new approach
Ibrahim “Obby” Khan is the co-founder of Goodlocal.ca, a Winnipeg-based web platform that he describes as being like “Amazon and Etsy meet local.”
As the owner of a half dozen Winnipeg restaurants, Khan knows just how hard things have been for local vendors lately. That’s why he spearheaded a plan to bring together a handful businesses that were doing fine before COVID-19, but found themselves losing sales afterwards because they weren’t able to pivot to online selling — or handle delivery, if they could get enough sales to make it worthwhile
WATCH | Ibrahim “Obby” Khan describes how his startup, Goodlocal.ca, has grown quickly:
Goodlocal has become a sort of middle man for those businesses, connecting retailers with consumers who want to shop from them even amid current COVID restrictions. It’s searchable by product and growing by the day.
“If you want it and it’s local, you can order it. We will take care of the packaging, getting it from the vendor and we will drop it off at your house,” Khan said.
While the initiative started slowly with a few dozen vendors, it now has wares from more than 200 — and a backlog of almost as many, looking to sign up. It’s been such a success he hopes to expand across the province and maybe the country, next year.
Khan said the site has grown from just 18 orders on its launch day, a few weeks ago, to hundreds everyday. On Wednesday, the site processed a record 705 orders.
Goodlocal has put $91,000 worth of sales into retailers’ pockets in a matter of weeks. Those are real dollars that could be the difference between staying open or shutting down forever for some of them, he said. “You could see tears in some of our vendors eyes … they were saying: ‘I’ve sold more in two weeks than I have sold in the last nine months since COVID started’.”
Best of all, he said, 95 per cent of customers end up buying something from more than one vendor, not just the one they sought out in the first place. And vendors say they are booking sales from new customers, not just their existing ones.
“It’s really turning into this ecosystem of everything and anything local,” he said.
Melissa Zuker’s story is similar. In 2014, she co-founded the Toronto Market Co., which works with local restaurants, retailers and artisans to create pop-up shops and markets to sell their wares to the public.
Business was booming and then like everything else, COVID-19 brought things to a standstill in March of this year. As the concept of one-stop-shopping in a physical location became next to impossible to do, Zuker made the same digital pivot to try to recreate that market experience, online.
In June, Torontomarketco.com was launched. A few dozen businesses signed up at first, but the response from customers was so encouraging that the site now works with almost 100.
The site offers either delivery, for a small fee, or contactless pickup. The holiday buying season, which starts roughly on Black Friday and goes through to Christmas, is a huge time on the retail calendar, with many businesses making up to half of their annual sales in this period.
Zuker’s been pleased with the response from vendors and customers.
“Anything that we can do for anyone … that’s been forced to close. I think it’s really important to try to support them [because] your favourite bakery on the corner might not be there in the spring,” she said.
“I think the concept to support local has always been there, but certainly in the last few weeks, the push to support local has been enormous.”
Markus Giesler, a consumer researcher and associate professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto, said COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way retailers sell and consumers buy.
Under normal circumstances, most consumers are very price sensitive and want the best deal, he said.
“And if the best deal means going outside of their community, going to the shopping mall somewhere else, then that goes at the expense of shopping local,” he said in an interview.
But that rule of thumb isn’t quite as iron clad this year, he said.
“We’re a lot more willing to help local businesses and we’re trying to do this in an effort to make a difference, you know, almost as a patriotic duty, if you will.”
Small retailers still face a major uphill battle in their constant fight against big box sellers who can push prices lower and online behemoths like Amazon, which will always have a leg up in terms of speed and convenience. But initiatives like the ones in Toronto and Winnipeg can be a major weapon in that battle, he said.
“If more and more businesses come together, share logistics, share distribution, make the process easier to manage, make it more scalable, then you have a win-win situation where consumers and businesses work on the same end.”
While seemingly overmatched against giants like Walmart, Amazon and others, Khan, a former CFL football player with Ottawa, Winnipeg and Calgary, has first-hand experience of how a focused team of underdogs can rally together to beat a heavy favourite.
“We have a fleet of drivers a lot of them volunteering their time to come in tomorrow and help us deliver,” he said, pointing to a stack of more than 700 orders.
“It’s rocking and rolling … we just really want to keep this thing going and support local businesses and keep people safe at home.”
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