Alex ConnIt is no doubt that retailing as an industry, and we as a nation, and indeed as one interconnected world, are facing a generational issue of great seriousness and magnitude. COVID-19 is changing our habits as individuals and as consumers, and while there are undeniable and significant problems that have been caused by this new environment, that does not mean that the retail industry is not already adapting to our new (but hopefully temporary) reality in order to meet the needs of consumers. Many segments, including but not limited to medical, grocery, and delivery are desperately hiring in order to keep up with demand.

In descending order of big flashy hiring numbers, Instacart is searching for 300,000 workers, as “the last few weeks have been the busiest in Instacart’s history” per CEO Apoorva Mehta. Walmart is looking to hire 150,000 people by the end of May. Amazon is seeking 100,000 new employees. Dollar General and Dollar Tree are planning to hire a combined 75,000 additional workers. CVS is hiring 50,000, while Walgreens is hiring 10,000. Kroger is also looking for about 10,000 new hires. Dominos is seeking an undetermined number, but is trying to hire 1,000 new workers in Chicago alone. Aldi, H-E-B, PepsiCo, Publix, Sprouts, and Stop & Shop are also actively looking for new hires. Uber is encouraging its drivers to explore the delivery options via UberEats and says that there has been a 10 times increase in restaurants signing up for delivery services. There are many others that are not listed, but a simple google search shows just how many positions are starting to open.

In addition to these named bigger companies, this shift is also impacting companies further down the supply chain. Lineage Logistics, which is the largest refrigerated warehousing company in the country, is hiring 2,000 additional workers. The 3M division responsible for the N95 respirator masks is hiring, as is GE Healthcare, as they plan to collectively pump out COVID-19 related equipment including CAT scanners, ultrasound devices, mobile X-ray systems, patient monitors, and ventilators.

While it seems obvious that many of these industries are the logical ones to shift and grow into these slightly new roles, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the retail world evolves as well. As one example, craft stores like Joann Fabrics are offering curbside pickups, giving families another option to stay busy at home. Restaurants are discovering and inventing new ways to get their menu options onto the plates of consumers without seating them in their dining rooms. While this is a horrible way to force changes in the retail industry, companies and the industry as a whole will see significant innovations from this situation, long after COVID-19 is hopefully a distant memory.

Until that time, wash your hands, keep practicing good social distancing, and stay home if possible. From myself and everyone else at Ulmer & Berne LLP, I hope you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy.