Tech

Amazon says it is out of stock of household items and deliveries are delayed due to coronavirus demand

Key Points
  • Amazon said many household items are out of stock due to increased demand as the coronavirus spreads across the U.S.
  • The company also warned shipping times are slower due to the high demand for online shopping.
  • Amazon Prime members typically get orders within one or two days.
Peter Endig | AFP | Getty Images

Amazon warned it's experiencing Prime delivery days and running out of stock of popular household items amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The issues are a result of a "dramatic increase in the rate that people are shopping online," Amazon said in a blog post that was updated on Saturday. Some popular brands and items in the "household staples" categories were out of stock, while Amazon said some of its "delivery promises are longer than usual."

"In the short term this is having an impact on how we serve our customers," Amazon said in the blog post. "We are working around the clock with our selling partners to ensure availability on all of our products, and bring on additional capacity to deliver all of your orders."

Amazon added a notice to the top of its marketplace this weekend that reads: "Inventory and delivery may be temporarily unavailable due to increased demand. Confirm availability at checkout."

Meanwhile, a quick scan for in-demand items like toilet paper and bottled water showed that many listings were out of stock. Amazon's normally speedy one-day and two-day delivery options also showed delays of several days. After adding an item to the shopping basket, Amazon said the order would arrive within four days.

The issue marks a rare disruption to Amazon's signature two-day and one-day Prime delivery service. The company now counts more than 150 million paid Prime members around the world. Recently, Amazon has stepped up its investments in one-day and same-day delivery, spending $1.5 billion during last year's holiday shopping season to expand the services.

Household items like paper towels were out of stock on Amazon due to increased demand.

Amazon has faced increased demand from customers on multiple fronts amid the coronavirus outbreak. With shoppers stocking up online, services like Prime Now and the Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service reported limited availability for several days or told shoppers they were unable to make deliveries.

The increased demand threatens to pose logistical challenges for Amazon. The company has been working to avoid disruptions in the supply chain, while some factories in China and elsewhere remain offline.

Additionally, some fulfillment center employees may not be showing up to work. Earlier this month, Amazon relaxed its attendance policy for warehouse workers, allowing them to take unlimited unpaid time off through the month of March.

The company has also taken extra precautions at fulfillment centers, increasing the frequency and intensity of cleaning at all of its sites and requiring that employees sanitize and clean their work stations and vehicles at the start and end of every shift.

As of Sunday afternoon, there were more than 156,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus globally and at least 5,833 deaths from the virus. There were at least 2,952 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. and at least 57 deaths.

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