Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Amazon exec says Omicron’s impact on holiday spending uncertain

Although it is too early to determine how the Omicron coronavirus variety would affect consumer purchasing during the holiday season, a senior Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) executive hinted that shoppers will go-ahead for the time being.

“It’s very early in the process of understanding what’s happening with the new variant,” said Dave Clark, chief executive of Amazon’s worldwide consumer business, during a Sunday morning interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

While shoppers assess the situation, Clark expressed “extreme optimism” in the ability of scientists and pharmaceutical businesses that have created effective vaccines to respond to the new variety.

“Consumers are going to wait and see in terms of what happens … but are going to move on with their lives into this holiday season,” Clark said.

Clark’s remarks come amid recent supply chain issues tied to the emergence of another coronavirus type, Delta, by the Biden administration.

After the growing Omicron form, initially found in South Africa, spread to other parts of the world, the United States and other countries are now implementing travel restrictions. Thirteen cases were discovered among passengers on two aircraft that arrived in Amsterdam on Friday after departing South Africa, according to Dutch health authorities.

In recent days, instances have been discovered in the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Australia. While no instances have been reported in the United States, health experts believe the variation is already present.

Consumers are reconnecting after long periods of government-mandated lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions, according to Clark.

“People are looking at their lives so differently through the course of the pandemic,” Clark said. “People have evaluated what kind of jobs do they want to have, do they want to be in the foodservice business, do they want to be in retail, do they want to be in fulfillment, do both people in the family want to work? What’s the life structure and setup?”

While Amazon has successfully hired people during the current labor shortage, “it is a challenge,” he said.

Inflation, meanwhile, is not currently dragging down consumer spending, Clark said. Amazon had “a record-breaking Black Friday,” he said.