Coronavirus: Amazon and Apple suffer from shortages as Christmas approaches

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Will there be gifts for everyone under the tree? Admittedly, it is a bit to ask the question, but it is already shaking the giants of the Net, in particular Amazon and Apple. Like many other sectors, including the automotive industry, the two groups suffer from two ailments directly linked to the Covid-19 pandemic: recruitment problems and the lack of
semiconductor materials.

The results of the two American groups, published Thursday, disappointed investors, and their securities each lost more than 3% during electronic trading after the close of the New York Stock Exchange. Amazon has certainly achieved a turnover in line with its expectations, to the tune of 110.8 billion dollars (+ 15%) in the third quarter, but not to those of analysts who expected more than 111.6 billion.

Amazon struggles to recruit 150,000 seasonal workers for the holidays

The leader of online commerce has generated “only” $ 3.2 billion in net profit, half as much as last year. But Amazon had then benefited from the general confinement and the closure of the vast majority of physical stores, as well as an annual sales operation. The company also highlights its many investments, stressing that it has “almost doubled its warehouse network since the start of the pandemic”.

At the end of September, nearly 1.5 million people worked for Amazon around the world, 30% more than a year ago. The firm continues to hire, and even faces a labor shortage in the American market. The Seattle group said ten days ago its intention to recruit 150,000 seasonal workers for the holiday season, in addition to 165,000 hirings already announced in September, with high hiring bonuses.

But the lack of manpower to sort and deliver packages isn’t the only danger hanging over Amazon’s Christmas. “Rising wages, global supply issues and rising transportation costs” are listed by the retail giant, which also suffers from the shortage of electronic components. It is the latter which is particularly formidable for Apple.

The Californian firm estimates that it lost about six billion dollars in revenue from July to September due to “greater than expected supply constraints,” said managing director Tim Cook. In detail, the apple brand has been hit by “shortages of silicone”, an essential element in the manufacture of electronic chips, which affect the entire consumer electronics sector. Subcontracting factories in Asia are also disrupted by the coronavirus.

Strong increase in demand

Again, it is not so much a question of net losses as of failing to keep up with the increase in demand. IPhone sales have jumped 47% in one year. Over its entire 2020-2021 fiscal year (October to September), Apple sold smartphones worth $ 191.9 billion, by far the record, and nearly a third more than in its last exercise before the pandemic.

In other words, the shortages affecting Amazon and Apple mean more “there will not be something for everyone” in a full store than “there will not be” for a small customer base. Amazon’s chief financial officer, Brian Olsavsky, expects growth of between 4 and 12% over one year, despite the “costs” associated with recruitment problems.

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