As the economy waits with bated breath for the greenlight to restart shutdown businesses and get people back to work, some industries who never stopped are seeing bigger numbers than ever.
Liquor Stores and Wine Shops
Across the country mandated city and state shutdowns have forced restaurants to limit themselves to take out and delivery while others closed entirely. But people’s need for food and drink only increased in self-isolation. Many state leaders, like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, declared liquor stores an “essential business,” allowing them to continue operation during “stay at home” orders.
In Manhattan, many liquor stores and wine shops converted to curbside pick-up and delivery only to protect the health of people inside the stores but have recorded record sales as quarantined New Yorkers call in hefty orders. Downtown, Astor Wines & Spirits said they have had higher sales than at any time in their 50-year history.
"We’re busier than we were at Christmas currently our next delivery date is April 1,” Astor Wines COO Rob Fisher said. “Which is 10 to 12 days from now usually we're only three days out.”
Fisher described the sudden rush of orders amid the pandemic spread in New York City as surprising and even wondered if there hadn’t been a technical glitch.
"It was a shock to us in fact,” he said. “The first day I thought…there was a problem with the computer system.”
Both Amazon and Walmart have been overwhelmed with business and online delivery orders in the wake of the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic and have announced their intention to hire hundreds of thousands of new employees through the end of May.
Amazon has said that they intend to add 100,000 new jobs for warehouse workers and delivery drivers while Walmart has said that they are looking to put 150,000 new employees on the pay roll. Walmart has also stepped up as a private industry participant in the fight against the spread of the virus, pledging to remain open to the public while providing parking lot space for testing sites.
Walmart, eager to add workers to the fulfillment teams, pledged to pay $15-19 per hour at minimum through May as a way to attract staff. Likewise, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos vowed to raise wages for fulfillment workers and offered jobs to the many Americans displaced by shutdowns caused by the pandemic.
“Across the world, people are feeling the economic effects of this crisis, and I’m sad to tell you I predict things are going to get worse before they get better,” Bezos said in a company blog post. “We’re hiring for 100,000 new roles and raising wages for our hourly workers who are fulfilling orders and delivering to customers during this period of stress and turmoil. At the same time, other businesses like restaurants and bars are being forced to shut their doors. We hope people who’ve been laid off will come work with us until they’re able to go back to the jobs they had.”
Grocery and Convenience Stores
Like retail, grocery stores and convenience stores have seen sales jump into the stratosphere as nervous consumers snap up food and supplies at record rates. Many stores have seen their shelves empty as soon as they are stocked. One national grocer decided to take their record beginning to the month of March and reward its employees for their hard work during the time of crisis.
Trader Joe’s, a nationwide grocery chain known for its wide variety of healthy snacks, produce, and inexpensive “Two Buck Chuck” wine announced there would be a special bonus pool that would be divided among its employees. The chain also said there would be an increase in the number of paid sick days available to staff in addition to new regulations that required special cleanings and social distancing enforcement.
“We want to acknowledge the incredible hard work and dedication of our Crew Members in supporting each other and our communities by sharing the financial benefit of this sales increase with our store crew who have worked so hard during the past several weeks, and for as long as this challenge remains,” a Trader Joe’s company memo said.
Gun and Ammunition Shops
Firearm and ammunition sales have also seen a surge through the first few weeks of the pandemic in the United States. Gun store owners have struggled to meet the demand, seeing record sales as many first-time buyers are exercising their Second Amendment right to defend themselves.
“There’s never been anything like this,” a West Virginia gun store employee told Townhall. The employee noted that while there were some guns still in the display cases, there were virtually none to sell until they got more in stock. He didn’t know when that would be.
However, the enormous influx of business during a very down market did not dissuade anti-gun politicians from using the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to enact strict regulations on gun sales. While states like West Virginia have not restricted sales in any way during the pandemic, other state leaders have used the crisis as a reason to curb the legal distribution of firearms, shutting down shops and restricting mandated licenses indefinitely.
“It’s a time of uncertainty and people are realizing that they might need to feel safe,” said Amy Hunter of the National Rifle Association. A lawsuit was filed this week by the Second Amendment Foundation against the state of New Jersey after the governor forced gun shops to shut down.
While the world at large remains in quarantine in a virtual economic lockdown, these industries are marching on, showing that crisis doesn’t have to turn off the tap entirely. Grocers, retail, delivery services, and, yes, booze and guns, are keeping the door to prosperity open for the moment America is back in business.