Costco CFO Richard Galanti told analysts that members have been visiting locations to scoop up crucial supplies during the coronavirus outbreak. Those products include "dry grocery items, cleaning supplies, Clorox and bleach, water, paper goods, hand sanitizers," Galanti said. As a result, the members-only warehouse chain saw an uptick in consumer demand in February. "The last week and a half has been quite good with the sales, but we'll see what tomorrow brings," Galanti said. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Coronavirus may be wreaking havoc on the global economy, but it's provided a nice sales boost to at least one prominent global retailer. Costco saw a spike in consumer demand in February, which the chain attributed "to concerns over the Coronavirus." In its latest earnings results, the company said the uptick in demand had a 3% "positive impact on total and comparable sales." Costco CFO Richard Galanti told analysts in the earnings call that the company was "keeping a close eye on the developments of the coronavirus," specifically the safety of its members and employees, its operations, and its supply chain. "Members are turning to us for a variety of items associated with preparing for and dealing with a virus such as shelf stables, dry grocery items, cleaning supplies, Clorox and bleach, water, paper goods, hand sanitizers, sanitizing wipes, disinfectants, health and beauty aids," Galanti told analysts on Thursday. He said that warehouses are having trouble keeping up with members, adding that the surge in demand has been "a little crazy." And that's despite the fact that warehouses are receiving deliveries of crucial supplies daily. Galanti said that the chain will be placing quantity limits on certain products based on the region. The company will also adopt certain precautions within locations, including wiping down shopping cart handles with sanitizing wipes and setting up sanitizing wipe stations throughout the warehouses. On the operations side, a handful of Costco warehouses in Korea closed for a few days, and the location in Shanghai is limiting the number of members allowed inside at once. Galanti also addressed supply chain issues, including the fact that many manufacturing facilities in China remained closed beyond the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday due to the outbreak. One aspect of Costco's business that has suffered, despite the bounce in sales, is its in-house travel business. Galanti cited reduced demand and a sharp climb in cancellations on cruises and international travel. "I don't think there's any surprise with that," he said. The CFO thanked the company's "awesome" warehouse employees for keeping everything running smoothly, despite the fact that locations have been "beyond busy." "The last week and a half has been quite good with the sales, but we'll see what tomorrow brings," Galanti said.SEE ALSO: Walmart just took the first step toward getting rid of its dedicated grocery app Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: 9 items to avoid buying at Costco
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Hundreds of the fast-food chain’s locations aren’t serving hamburgers and grocery stores are limiting meat purchases,...Hundreds of the fast-food chain’s locations aren’t serving hamburgers and grocery stores are limiting meat purchases, as shoppers begin to feel the impact of meatpacking plant shutdowns.
'The supervisor coughed in a coworker's direction as a joke': As coronavirus cases at the US Postal Service surpass 1,200, employees say a lack of supplies and care is putting them at risk
Confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus have surpassed 1,200 at the United States Postal Service, which...Confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus have surpassed 1,200 at the United States Postal Service, which logged a mere 51 cases less than a month ago. More than 30 employees have died. In emails to Business Insider, USPS employees claimed a lack of sanitation supplies, sick pay, and care from supervisors. One employee said a supervisor coughed in the direction of a coworker "as a joke." The USPS told Business Insider that the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued an inquiry into the claim, and that after the USPS responded, "OSHA closed the matter without further inspection." The USPS has established safety and leave policies during the pandemic, but employees and unions have said those policies aren't being carried out everywhere. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. United States Postal Service employees from various states and municipalities are sharing their stories about what it's like to process and deliver the nation's mail during a pandemic. As confirmed COVID-19 cases surpass 1,200 among the employees, a common refrain has emerged: lack of supplies and care amid the deadly outbreak is putting them at risk. "I'm almost begging you to do some sort of investigation," a longtime USPS employee and American Postal Workers Union (APWU) member in California told Business Insider via email. The employee said they felt as if their supervisors didn't care, which was underscored by one particular event. "A coworker stated that the supervisor coughed in his direction less than a few feet away as a joke after the employee had made a remark about [the coronavirus]," they said. The employee claimed that the acting manager "sort of chuckled" when it happened, making light of a pandemic that has so far infected more than 2.6 million people and killed more than 180,000 worldwide. A USPS spokesperson told Business Insider that the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued an inquiry into the claim, and that after the USPS responded, "OSHA closed the matter without further inspection." Emails like the one above began to flood in not long after the USPS joined the coronavirus news cycle, such as in this story about how the service was in a financial crisis and how, as of March 25, 51 of 630,000 USPS employees had tested positive for the coronavirus and nearly 2,000 were in quarantine. At the time, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) union representing USPS city carriers said protective measures from the USPS weren't being deployed evenly. But things have gotten worse since then. As of April 17, counts from the NALC were that more than 900 employees had tested positive for the virus, more than 600 additional workers were presumed positive, more than 8,000 were in quarantine, and that more than 30 USPS employees had died from COVID-19, including nine city carriers. The American Postal Workers Union, which also represents USPS employees, wrote on April 16 that more than 35 postal workers, including "a number of APWU members," had died of COVID-19. On April 21, USPS spokesperson Dave Partenheimer told Business Insider that 1,219 employees had tested positive for COVID-19, in addition to "some deaths." Partenheimer did not have quarantine numbers to provide. That means the USPS has roughly 24 times the amount of cases it had less than a month ago, despite both insufficient amounts of testing and inequality in distribution across the US — as illustrated by asymptomatic celebrities, athletes, and billionaires obtaining tests while nurses on the front lines struggle to do the same. The longtime USPS employee in California, who isn't a carrier, told Business Insider that employees including themself were "either scared to speak up or simply don't want to put a target on [their] back for speaking up" about insufficiencies at the post office amid the pandemic. Only one employee who emailed Business Insider, who had been previously quoted by another outlet, didn't ask to stay anonymous out of fear of retaliation — Colorado carrier Stefan Geissler, who has actively spoken about the USPS' response to the pandemic. "While so many businesses have done their part and made difficult decisions to flatten the curve, the USPS is, as you know, not even in the starting blocks," Geissler told Business Insider via email. Other employees who reached out to Business Insider specifically asked not to be identified in order to protect their employment, which Business Insider has verified. The others echoed Geisler, along with the California employee saying they don't feel like the pandemic is being taken seriously enough. Management and other employees aren't following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, they said, and they've sent complaints to multiple organizations about what's going on. "We're given daily 'stand up' safety briefings and are required to sign documents saying we were given this 'training,' yet the supervisors do not practice any of the recommendations," they said, adding that the safety briefings happen every day in a small room and social-distancing guidelines aren't followed during them. "They are different everyday, and seem to be from the CDC and the post office's safety department." But, the employee said, their office hasn't "bothered to inform [them] of an employee who got the coronavirus in a building less than 100 yards away." They discovered the nearby case after seeing an alert that was intended for managers, they said. "When an employee asked about any cases next door, both the supervisor and acting manager acted as though they knew nothing and quickly changed the subject," they said. "Myself and three other employees go into that building to get our facility's mail, and they said nothing to us. "And here we are interacting within the vicinity, not knowing if we could be contracting a deadly disease and take it home to our families." The NALC said that in March, the USPS created a mandatory stand-up talk required to be given each time a facility has an employee who tested positive for COVID-19. The union has asked employees to report it if those talks are not happening. When asked, Partenheimer told Business Insider that in addition to stand-up talks that are supposed to be given when an employee tests positive, "any employees who may have had exposure" to the person who tested positive are notified. The California employee, an American Postal Workers Union member, said the union had been notified of all of the issues in their facility. On April 17, they sent Business Insider a photo of a bottle with clear liquid and a homemade label reading "hand sanitizer," claiming that it was a replacement bottle in the office. "No labels, just some bottle management gave us," they said. "Is it the right mixture?" When asked about the photo, Partenheimer told Business Insider that the USPS "only uses or purchases EPA approved products for cleaning and sanitizing." A Massachusetts employee who has spent decades working for the postal service, primarily as a city carrier, said that while their branch is supposed to receive daily safety briefings, there were three days during the first week of April when there were no briefings. The inconsistency carried into the next week, they said. When asked how the USPS is ensuring daily talks happen and safety protocols are being enforced, Partenheimer told Business Insider: "Standard Work Instructions have been issued to address social distancing in a number of different situations, including performing talks to our employees." In addition, Partenheimer said, all stand-up talks "are tracked" to ensure they happen. When asked how they're logged, Partenheimer said it's done in an online system called the "Safety Toolkit." People who are conducting the briefings have to certify that they delivered the talks and when they were given. But the Massachusetts employee said the inconsistency of safety briefings wasn't the only problem. "We have had limited access to sanitizing wipes and employees have resorted to buying construction wipes online," they said, adding that as of April 3, their postal facility hadn't provided employees with any hand sanitizer. The local fire and EMS service donated more than 20 small bottles of sanitizer, they said, adding that the USPS' "lack of preparedness and concern" is "systemic of our work conditions." The local fire chief confirmed the donation to Business Insider, saying the employee's office was one of two that received sanitizer donations. The employee "wouldn't dream of treating employees this way," they said. Employees were eventually provided with Lysol spray to share, the employee from Massachusetts said, in addition to a "short supply of gloves and limited wipes." Those in the community created cloth masks, too. A longtime city carrier in Ohio told Business Insider that when they opted to self quarantine at the end of March after not receiving adequate supplies or workstation sanitation, and after hearing that employees weren't being "informed of employees with pending tests," they weren't able to use their hundreds of hours of earned sick leave. The employee, a National Association of Letter Carriers member, sent photos of their hour tracking and earned hours, and said they were docked for leave without pay — which they felt was retaliation for feeling unsafe. "I am sure the union will get me the money eventually after a long grievance process," they said. "It is just the principal of the matter." When the Ohio employee returned to work on April 6 after their leave, they said their office did have hand sanitizer, surgical masks, gloves and wipes, but not everyone's temperature was taken. It was also announced that carriers would start staggering work by two hours in order to maintain proper social distancing, they said, but it still wasn't enough. "Out of the 30-plus people there this morning, I and two others were the only ones with masks on in the office and nothing was ever mentioned about the fatalities of fellow carriers in New York or the recent death of the mail handler in Detroit," they said, adding that carriers were responsible for sanitizing their own vehicles and were instructed not to let businesses or senior-living facilities take their temperatures. "We are also not being updated as to our number of positive cases within the company." Partenheimer confirmed that employees aren't allowed to submit to temperature readings or medical questionnaires as a condition of delivery, "because temperature readings and medical questionnaires are currently considered confidential medical information." "Under the Rehabilitation Act and the Privacy Act, specific employee medical information must be kept confidential and may only be shared in very limited circumstances," Partenheimer said. Partenheimer also confirmed that carriers are responsible for maintaining vehicles and workstations, and that the USPS has instructed drivers "to clean frequently touched surfaces regularly." "All required supplies were made available to employees on a daily basis," Partenheimer told Business Insider. "When supplies need to be replenished, every effort was and is being made to expedite the orders." A month ago, the NALC union was talking about the claimed lack of supplies promised by the USPS. While the service agreed to provide certain provisions during the coronavirus pandemic, the union said in a March 25 update — daily cleaning supplies for offices and vehicles, hand sanitizer and other clearing supplies for carriers, and masks and gloves for any employee who requested them — much of that promise wasn't being fulfilled. "We have received almost 3,000 reports from all over the country regarding these issues," the union statement from March said. "In some places, all of these things are being done. However, in too many places they are not. "In the places where there are not enough supplies, or none at all, it is generally due to the overall shortage of these items throughout the country. USPS has been working to acquire more items, even authorizing local managers to purchase them if they could be found." In the April 17 update, the NALC indicated that the problem hadn't been fixed entirely, saying that the NALC was "in constant communication and negotiation with management" about "supplies, equipment, policies, protocols, and work procedures necessary to keep letter carriers safe." When asked about the claims of supply shortages, Partenheimer told Business Insider that the USPS "worked through some early supply-chain issues — the same issues faced by others across the country — and [is] making sure the supplies and equipment are getting to all areas." The NALC told members to immediately contact the union if they saw issues in the workplace, many of which were mentioned by the employees who reached out to Business Insider. Those issues included, emphasis ours: Please continue to contact us with any questions, and to report offices that are not being sanitized on a regular basis, that do not have sufficient supplies (hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, masks, gloves, etc.), that are not following Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) protocols for employees to be quarantined, that have not implemented social distancing practices, that are not providing daily communication regarding stand-up talks, safety precautions, and instances of infection in the building, that expect employees to work without protection or in an unsanitized environment, or that have any other issues that put employees at increased risk. The union added in that same update that the USPS had recently agreed to provide N95 masks to employees who are more vulnerable to the virus and request such equipment. That's in addition to an April 2 update from the USPS, which said it would: ensure "millions of masks, gloves and cleaning and sanitizing product are available and distributed to more than 30,000 locations every day"; ensure appropriate social distancing at facilities; update cleaning policies to meet CDC guidelines; allow "allow liberal use of leave" for employees; allow those who can work remotely to do so; and issue "a daily cadence of employee talks, articles, videos, and other communications to ensure employees have the latest information and guidance." Neither the NALC nor the APWU responded to a list of questions sent over by Business Insider. But as both employees and the unions have pointed out, not all of those protection promises from the USPS have panned out yet. Still, the Ohio employee said, people rely on the work of USPS employees — from those looking for medication to local restaurants sending out deal fliers to stay afloat and those relying on an income by making masks and selling them. And even amid a "toxic" work environment that requires the right mental attitude to stick with, they said, "the good outweighs the bad." "I love my job and my customers, and I take pride in going out of my way for them everyday," they said. "We are essential. "But if I can't ensure my own safety, I can't ensure my customers' safety either." Are you a USPS employee with a story to share about the coronavirus pandemic? Contact the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: What makes 'Parasite' so shocking is the twist that happens in a 10-minute sequence
Sex toys, video games, and dolls: Amazon workers claim the company is still sending out whatever customers order despite pledges to prioritize essential goods
On March 17, Amazon announced that it would only accept orders for goods such as medical...On March 17, Amazon announced that it would only accept orders for goods such as medical and sanitation supplies, and other high-demand products amid the global coronavirus outbreaks. Amazon said claimed it would only deliver essential items in Italy and France, regardless of what it had in stock. However, Amazon workers at facilities across the US claim that the e-commerce giant is continuing to deliver non-essential items, like nipple clamps, Nintendo Switches, and home hand spa stations. In response, Amazon told Business Insider that it is "focused on stocking and delivering items that are a higher priority for our customers, including household staples, sanitizers, baby formula, and medical supplies." Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. As businesses close their doors and risk financial ruin to help curb spread the of the coronavirus, Amazon has maintained operation, saying it is "working around the clock to ensure we continue to provide essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic." However, several Amazon workers who work at various facilities across the nation say they're putting their lives at risk to fulfill orders that are far from "essential." "We're creating more disaster than we're helping. There's nothing on our truck that is essential," Kathy Knight, a driver lead for Amazon in Pennsylvania, told Business Insider. "I mean, my life is essential — but there's nothing else on that truck that is." Amazon continues to ship out various non-essential items, including nipple clamps, dollhouses, and home hand spas On March 17, Amazon announced to its vendors that it would be prioritizing "essential goods" such as household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products amid the global coronavirus outbreaks. Days later, the company claimed that it would only deliver essential items in Italy in France, where many residents have been under strict lockdowns for over a month, to "to respect anti-coronavirus safety measures in the workplaces," Reuters reported. Kristen Kish, a spokesperson for Amazon, told Business Insider that Amazon "continues to remain focused on stocking and delivering items that are a higher priority for our customers, including household staples, sanitizers, baby formula, and medical supplies." However, several employees who work across various stages of Amazon's fulfillment process — from intaking products from vendors to packaging orders to ship out to customers, and delivering boxes to their doors — told Business Insider that the company is continuing to deliver most of what customers orders despite their pledges to focus on essential services. One inbound associate from Houston, Texas, recalled scanning in rhinestones, keto diet food, and dog brushes from vendors as recent as last week. "But from what I can see on my end, I'm not seeing the essentials. I don't see paper towels, or clorox wipes, or bleach," she said. While packaging items to be sent out to customers, two outbound associates — one in Phoenix, Arizona, and another in Hazleton, Pennsylvania — both reported sorting through various sex toys such as nipple clamps and dildos and sending out items like sunglasses. One Amazon customer had recently ordered 392 different kinds of nipple clamps, a worker said. A Phoenix, Arizona associate expressed frustration after packaging nipple clamps and sunglasses to send out to customers, even as a nearby building confirmed an employee had tested positive for the coronavirus. "We're not only sending out essential items to customers, but we're sending stupid stuff like sex toys — it doesn't make sense to send that type of stuff out to people," the associate in Arizona who wished to remain anonymous told Business Insider. Knight, an Amazon driver who makes anywhere from 150 to 190 stops a day to deliver as many as 300 packages in Pennsylvania, began taking note of the items she was delivering after Amazon announced it would be prioritizing critical items. "In one day, I had a home hand spa, glittery girl dolls, a dollhouse, Xbox games, and racecar tracks," the 47-year-old told Business Insider, noting that she had not included several days after the announcement to account for orders that had already been placed prior to the March 17 announcement. In the time since Amazon's announcement that it would be prioritizing delivering essential products, she said she hadn't delivered medical supplies, groceries, or household cleaning supplies. The last "essential" items she delivered were bulk orders of toilet paper rolls, she said, as people began to hoard the paper product in the early days of the outbreak. But, she says what really set her off was delivering ping pong paddles in a wealthy neighborhood. "I'm like, 'Are you serious?' I am coming out here and risking my life for seeing taking this home to my children and my boyfriend. So you can have ping pong paddle?" she said. Soon after, Knight told her boss that she would no longer be delivering packages for Amazon for the time being. Her 22-year-old son, who also worked as an Amazon driver, began experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 after delivering boxes to a local hospital. She claimed she no longer wanted to risk spreading the virus across her community any longer. Amazon publicly lauds its warehouse workers as "heroes" — but they feel that the company is unnecessarily putting their life at risk Medical personnel, emergency responders, and grocery store workers are among the essential workers putting their lives at risk to battle the coronavirus outbreak. Amazon considered its e-commerce services among those heroically operating amid these tumultuous times. "Our employees are heroes fighting for their communities and helping people get critical items they need in this crisis," a Kristen Kish, a spokesperson for Amazon told Business Insider. "We have nearly 500,000 people in the U.S. alone supporting customers and we are taking measures to support each one." However, warehouse employees executing those services feel that Amazon is not doing enough to protect its workers, or the larger community from being exposed to the coronavirus. "They call us heroes in the media but treat us like freed slaves that have no other choice to work for the same master for little pay and same crappy conditions," an employee from Arizona told Business Insider. With hundreds or even thousands of workers packed into a warehouse at a time — rendering social distancing measures "impossible" — and a scarce supply of hand sanitizers and cleaning products, employees called Amazon facilities a "breeding ground" for coronavirus infection. And, despite having confirmed COVID-19 cases at several warehouses, they claim that management refused to temporarily close down their locations to clean the entire facility despite employee requests. "I'm really confused on why we're even being asked to work. Amazon doesn't have with the people need," the Houston warehouse worker claimed, adding that she has not processed toilet paper, cleaning supplies, or other "essential items" that the e-commerce giant claimed to be prioritizing. "Essentials aren't really available in the warehouse," she added. An Amazon employee who works in vendor returns said her department was continuing to process returns — a job she and her colleagues did not consider critical amid the outbreak. However, she and about 1,100 other employees continue to cram into a building in Lexington, Kentucky to continue this "non-essential service." "We are not providing any life-sustaining services right now we are simply taking in returns and at this particular time I can't imagine anybody that wants to go process or return right now outside of their home," the employee told Business Insider. The employee in Pennsylvania claimed that she was not notified as an associate fulfilling customer order that Amazon was "prioritizing actual essential items." "If they say they changed the policy, they haven't — they're shipping everything as it comes," Dominica Mercuri, a warehouse associate in Pennsylvania, told Business Insider. As far as she knew, Amazon was "still trying to even keep their two-day promise to our Prime members whenever they can," she said. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Jeff Bezos reportedly just spent $165 million on a Beverly Hills estate — here are all the ways the world's richest man makes and spends his money