To make room for toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other items in high demand during the global viral pandemic, Amazon said it is limiting what brands and independent sellers can send to its warehouses for the next three weeks. Among the products that can be shipped to Amazon include canned beans, diapers, dog food, disinfecting wipes, medical supplies and various household goods. Items like jeans, phone cases and other nonessentials will not be allowed. Merchants send their products to Amazon to store in their warehouses until a shopper buys it. Amazon then packs up the products and ships it to the customer. Third-party sellers who sell most of their goods on Amazon.com could suffer if they go out of stock and can’t ship more goods to Amazon. Shoppers could begin to see less stuff to buy on the site. Nearly 60% of all the goods sold on Amazon came from third-party sellers in 2018.

Employment

U.S. job openings jumped before outbreak

U.S. employers sharply increased the number of jobs they advertised in January, a sign the job market and economy were in mostly solid shape before the virus outbreak hit. Businesses, nonprofits and government agencies posted nearly 7 million open jobs in January, up 6.3% from the previous month. Hiring slowed, while the number of people quitting their jobs was largely unchanged. Quits can be a sign of economic strength since most people quit a job when they have another lined up. Overall, the figures show that in January there were more jobs available than the number of unemployed, but that will likely change sharply as companies lay off workers and freeze hiring amid widespread closures and self-isolation intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Automotive

VW to shutter European plants for 2 weeks

Volkswagen said Tuesday it would close most of its European plants for two weeks due to uncertainty about demand for cars and supplies of parts amid the virus outbreak and said it wasn’t possible to give a reliable outlook for this year’s profits. The company said, however, that its China business, a pillar of the company’s earnings, was coming back as the number of new cases lessens there and that its ambitious plans to scale up production of electric cars remained on track. CEO Herbert Diess made the factory closing announcement at the start of the company’s annual news conference. The dpa news agency, citing employee representatives, said that the last shifts would run this Friday in most locations. The company’s facilities in Italy, where the outbreak has been particularly severe, have already shut down.

Food delivery

Waitr was deeply in the red during 2019

Louisiana-based food-delivery service Waitr was more than $290 million in the red in 2019, but its CEO said there are plans to increase cash flow. The company’s yearly and fourth-quarter financial results were reported in a news release Monday. Last year’s revenue for Waitr Holdings Inc. was reported at $191.7 million, while it experienced a net loss of $291.3 million. The company “encountered various management and personnel changes” last year, which distracted from its focus on customers and operations, Chairman and CEO Carl Grimstad said in the release. Grimstad became CEO in January after the former chief executive, Adam Price, resigned in December. Waitr is working to improve its service quality with restaurants, diners and drivers, Grimstad said in the release. The company also plans to provide more services to restaurant owners to help them grow their businesses.

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