Amazon to put 1,000 warehouses in suburban neighborhoods
Amazon are planning to open 1,000 small delivery hubs in cities and suburbs all over the United States. The facilities, which will eventually increase to 1,500, will bring products closer to customers and hopes to make online shopping faster.
This comes as Amazon were not able to fulfill its two-day delivery promise earlier in the year when customers in COVID-19 lockdown inundated the company with more orders than it could handle. While delivery times have since improved due to hiring 175,000 extra staff, the company is now consumed with trying to honor the pre-pandemic pledge to get products of same-day delivery for Prime subscribers.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is investing billions in proximity and putting warehouses and blue vans in neighorhoods that were once occupied by car dealerships, fast-food establishments, shopping malls and big-box stores.
Amazon’s competitors, Walmart and Target Corp., are now trying to beat the company at its own game by offering same-day delivery of online orders, and Walmart recently started its own Prime-style subscription service, upping the competitiveness. Beyond Amazon’s retail rivals, the mass opening of small, quick-delivery warehouses poses a threat to United Parcel Service Inc. and the U.S. Postal Service. It is critical to Amazon that they are the fastest in the next-day delivery race.
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Supply chains struggle with PPE inventory months into the pandemic
Supply chains are struggling to maintain personal protective equipment (PPE) inventories. 77% of respondents from the August PPE Shortage Index survey by Get Us PPE say there is no supply remaining for certain types of PPE.
Despite large hospital systems beginning to benefit from a recovering PPE supply chain, the smaller, non-hospital facilities are still facing shortages. According to the survey, the three most requested items last month were N95 respirators, disinfectant wipes, and surgical masks.
According to Alizée Weber, the Deputy Director of Operations at Get Us PPE, it’s particularly difficult to get PPE in rural parts of the country due to factors such as the geographic location, the cost of ordering PPE in small amounts, and the inability of smaller organizations to meet the minimum order quantity. Some organizations have resorted to cleaning and sanitizing used PPE to help extend the life of its existing inventory, and are also relying on homemade alternatives. Some organizations are making changes to procurement practices so they can get the PPE they need. Some are moving to multi-source contracts instead of single-source contracts.
Mike Schiller, Senior Director of Supply Chain at the Association for Health Care Resource & Materials Management said “the supply chain remains fragile and overtaxed by the worldwide demand for PPE.“ In April, hospitals accounted for 47% of PPE requests compared to 53% that came from non-hospital groups such as homeless shelters, dental clinics, nursing homes or social services. By August, hospitals accounted for just 10%, partly because Get Us PPE accepted requests from schools, hurricane shelters and more social service organizations. They are also now receiving more donations from manufacturers and corporate partners rather than individuals.
However, despite more stock coming from large suppliers, more than three quarters of requesters still have no PPE inventory remaining. Get Us PPE has received requests for 21 million units of PPE in total, but has only been able to fulfill approximately 10% of those requests. “The supply of N95s continue to remain a concern,“ Schiller said. “As states mandate PPE stockpiling, N95 manufacturers in particular will be forced to chase ever-increasing demand“ which could put further strain on scarce commodity. “This is really an indication of how severe the crisis is,“ Weber said.
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Rise in U.S. confectionary sales due to upcoming Halloween season
Major confectionary brands are gearing up for Halloween, and data from the US-based National Confectioners Association shows that sales of spooky-related treats have increased considerably. According to the organization’s latest figures, total chocolate and candy sales in this particular category are up by 13%, with chocolate delivering a 25% upturn. The confectionary market in the US in particular plays a key role in the multi-billion dollar retail season.
The grocery channel is a key driver for the growth of Halloween chocolate and candy sales, as consumer behaviors continue to evolve during the pandemic. More people are shopping at grocery stores more often, and in the grocery channel alone, Halloween chocolate and candy sales are up by 17.1%.
Studies surrounding Halloween celebrations show that there is an increasingly positive outlook on perceptions of this year’s events in the US. Research from The Harris Poll shows that 80% of the general public admit they can’t imagine Halloween without chocolate and candy.
Consumers are seeing in their local retail stores that Halloween chocolate and candy are on full display, which shows retailers, manufacturers and consumers that Halloween is still happening even if people have to celebrate a bit differently this year.
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