Reopening America: Amazon, Seafood, and Retail


As it tries to get business moving back to normal, Amazon is reopening its logistics operations wider to third-party suppliers.

The e-commerce monster has begun delivering bottomless shipments of non-essential goods to its warehouses as part of a larger plan to return to pre-pandemic business operations. This includes postponing its annual Prime Day shopping promotion until the fall, which is when the company’s authorities believe distribution networks will have fully regained their footing. By lifting the warehouse restrictions, Amazon is suggesting that it can now complete orders more swiftly in its warehouses and handle a larger amount of inventory. This after its shipping delivery times declined under an overflow of orders driven by the restrictions put in place nationally by the coronavirus.

In the meantime, retail competitors have also stepped up with positive results in some cases claiming advantages in using their brick-and-mortar stores for fulfillment. Amazon’s shipping speeds have also improved in light of the slowly lifted COVID-19 restrictions, but the company has yet to reinstate one-day shipping for most Prime orders.

All facets of business and shipping chains have been affected by this season including that of the seafood industry.

Seafood suppliers have been struggling to renovate their supply chains while continuing to look for new customers as the coronavirus crisis still takes a toll on their business. Unsurprisingly, due to the number of hands involved, the pandemic is affecting seafood industries even harder than the meat industry. Many key markets have been crippled as both fishermen and processors struggle to redirect their highly perishable products to their destination.

American supermarket shoppers are buying both more fish and shellfish to cook at home during quarantine. However, food experts say nearly 70% of seafood is consumed in restaurants, the vast majority of which are currently closed, and the sales to consumers are not compensating for the lost business. Across the country, fishermen have docked vessels and distributors have deflected what fresh fish they can into freezers to be preserved. Oftentimes, the remainder of the fish is destroyed. In the meantime, prices for many items have nosedived as costs rise for processors trying to prevent the virus from reaching to seafood plants as it has already in slaughterhouses. Many in the seafood industry are currently operating in survival mode as they try to survive this challenging season.

A long-lasting divide in the retail sector is now being accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Along with the goods and services companies that supply them, department stores and apparel retailers are also struggling. On the other hand, big-box chain companies such as Walmart, Target, Home Depot and Lowe’s, are managing with surges in sales. The gap between general-merchandise, hardware retailers, and department stores was growing even before the pandemic. The current economic crisis has further highlighted the volatile nature of traditional business models. Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret and others have conveyed extreme sales declines last quarter thus leaving them with an abundance of extra inventory. Kohl’s says it will be managing its business “very conservatively” for the rest of the year after it shed stocks as its stores closed their doors in March. Off-price retailer TJX included a $500 million charge for unsold inventory in its first-quarter loss.

As things begin to open back up, MTS Logistics will continue to monitor the growth and progress of the economy as well as the logistical effects the reopening of various businesses and companies will have on the shipping industry.