With shoppers clearing out shelves in fear of quarantines or product shortages, retailers are racing to keep food and hygienic items in stock and have employees on hand for in-store work or delivery.
Like Amazon, US supermarket chains Albertsons, Kroger and Raley’s have sought new hires to staff busy sections and fulfill online orders. They are turning to people in the restaurant, travel and entertainment businesses who are suddenly looking for work because of the coronavirus.
"We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back", Amazon said in a blog post.
Major shipper United Parcel Service said its trucking and air deliveries were still on despite growing government restrictions on commercial activities. It said Monday it was meeting demand with its existing workforce.
The coronavirus, which has led to more than 7,100 deaths globally and prompted mass lockdowns of people, has also led to items being out of stock on Amazon and some deliveries taking longer than usual.
Amazon’s headcount fluctuates seasonally, recently peaking for the holiday quarter at 798,000 full and part-time workers. It was not immediately clear how many people Amazon would employ after it hires 100,000 more.
Amazon has said it will increase pay for its staff in the UK, US and Europe in response to a surge in demand during the coronavirus outbreak.
The online retailer said it would temporarily raise wages by £2 an hour in the UK, $2 in the US, and €2 in Europe until the end of April for hourly employees.
The company said it expects the pay rises to cost it more than £285 million.
Amazon has announced it will hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the US to handle the coronavirus related jump in sales.
In Italy where people face long queues to get into empty supermarkets, Amazon’s grocery operation has been booked out. People have to place their orders after midnight if they hope to get a delivery the next day.
“We are seeing a significant increase in demand, which means our labour needs are unprecedented for this time of year”, said Dave Clark, who oversees Amazon’s warehouse and delivery network.