• France's competition watchdog orders Google to pay for news reuse
    TechCrunch

    France's competition watchdog orders Google to pay for news reuse

    France's competition authority has ordered Google to negotiate with publishers to pay for reuse of snippets of their content -- such as can be displayed in its News aggregation service or surfaced via Google Search. The country was the first of the European Union Member States to transpose the neighbouring right for news into national law, following the passing of a pan-EU copyright reform last year. Among various controversial measures the reform included a provision to extend copyright to cover content such as the ledes of news stories which aggregators such as Google News scrape and display.

  • Disney+ has more than 50M subscribers
    TechCrunch

    Disney+ has more than 50M subscribers

    The Walt Disney Company just announced that its streaming service Disney+ has more than 50 million subscribers. The service launched less than five months ago, and apparently had 28.6 million subscribers as of February 3.

  • Netflix to launch weekly Instagram Live series about coping during the COVID-19 pandemic
    TechCrunch

    Netflix to launch weekly Instagram Live series about coping during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Netflix is launching a new series on Instagram that will focus on taking care of yourself and your mental health during the COVID-19 global pandemic. The series, which will begin airing on Instagram Live tomorrow at 7 PM PT, features the stars of some of Netflix's top Young Adult shows and movies, including "To All the Boys I've Loved Before," "The Kissing Booth," "Stranger Things," "Cheer" and "13 Reasons Why." The series will run every Thursday from now through May 14 on the @Netflix Instagram account, and will discuss the sort of challenges that young people are facing during the health crisis.

  • Lacking eyeballs, Facebook's ad review system fails to spot coronavirus harm
    TechCrunch

    Lacking eyeballs, Facebook's ad review system fails to spot coronavirus harm

    Facebook's ad review system is failing to prevent coronavirus misinformation from being targeted at its users, according to an investigation by Consumer Reports. The not-for-profit consumer advocacy organization set out to test Facebook's system by setting up a page for a made-up organization, called the Self Preservation Society, and creating ads that contained false or deliberately misleading information about the coronavirus -- including messaging that claimed (incorrectly) that people under 30 are "safe", or that coronavirus is a "HOAX". Facebook's system waived all the ads through, apparently failing to spot any problems or potential harms.

  • Why Costco is the ultimate coronavirus pandemic stock to own
    Yahoo Finance

    Why Costco is the ultimate coronavirus pandemic stock to own

    Costco's stock looks ripe for further gains during the coronavirus pandemic, strategists say.

  • Thousands of People in Dorms Pose New Challenge to Singapore Virus Fight
    Bloomberg

    Thousands of People in Dorms Pose New Challenge to Singapore Virus Fight

    (Bloomberg) -- Tightly packed dormitories housing thousands of foreign workers have emerged as one of Singapore’s biggest challenges in its fight to contain the spread of the coronavirus.The city state reported its highest daily increase of infections Thursday, and more than 200 of the 287 new cases were linked to foreign worker dormitories that house mainly low-wage workers in construction and other sectors. Those groups now account for about a quarter of the country’s 1,910 cases.Authorities have moved swiftly to isolate the clusters. Two dormitories that together house almost 20,000 people were on Sunday designated by the Ministry of Manpower as “isolation areas” after new, linked virus cases emerged, while two more dormitories were gazetted this week. Residents were ordered to stay in their shared rooms for two weeks, but would still receive wages as well as deliveries of food and other essentials.“It is honestly a difficult situation,” said Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases physician at Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital, who drew comparisons to cruise ships like the Diamond Princess, where about 700 of its roughly 3,700 passengers were infected with Covid-19. “This is going to be a big mess.”For Singapore, a country that has been championed by health officials for its methodical virus response since the outbreak began, the move to quarantine potentially exposed workers living in close proximity has raised questions about whether the conditions will allow for social distancing -- one of the key strategies utilized around the world to contain the outbreak’s spread.“To try and sort this out, they need to remain in the rooms for weeks with no interactions,” Leong said, adding that Singapore would have to also navigate language barriers and cultural differences among the workers.Adequate social distancing is already a challenge for those who don’t live in worker dorms. The government gave out more than 7,000 warnings to people who didn’t observe rules on the first day of a month-long so-called “circuit breaker” that has seen schools and most workplaces closed. The prime minister warned Thursday that people are still not doing enough to stay apart from one other.Key WorkforceForeigners make up about 38% of Singapore’s overall workforce, including foreign domestic workers, according to government figures through the end of last year. They have an outsize share in the construction industry, where three of every four workers is foreign, while foreigners account for about half of Singapore’s manufacturing workforce and 30% in services.A fixture in industries that depend on low-wage workers, there are more than 200,000 migrants from across Asia who live in 43 dormitories in Singapore, Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo wrote in a Facebook post on Monday, noting there was “no question” standards in dormitories should be raised. Singapore charities that support migrant workers say they have seen 10 or more people share a single room.With the coronavirus ravaging much of the planet, crowded spaces like these “pose transmission risks for everyone,” the World Health Organization said.“When people are in quarantine, physical distancing becomes even more challenging,” a WHO spokesman wrote by email. “In such conditions, it’s especially important to follow guidance on regular hand washing, respiratory etiquette and other practices to keep people healthy and prevent disease spread.”Singapore is providing on-site support, including food and essential supplies while preventive measures are being put in place in the dormitories, the spokesman wrote.The government has so far closed non-essential amenities such as gyms and libraries, prevented inter-mingling between blocks, staggered meal and recreation times. It’s also established basic health care facilities at two of the dormitories, while the authorities are seeking to whittle down the number of residents in affected blocks. Some healthy foreign workers operating in essential services have been moved to vacant public housing apartments.Meanwhile, Singapore has also deployed its army doctors, medical military experts and medics at the dormitories to take care of foreign workers who are unwell or infected, according to a Facebook post by Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen.Singapore is not the only country with coronavirus clusters in foreign worker residences. In Malaysia, the government on Tuesday imposed an “enhanced movement control order” on two apartment facilities in Kuala Lumpur that house some 6,000 residents after 15 people tested positive for the virus, Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Wednesday. 97% of the residents are from abroad, mostly India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, he said.Crowded SpacesWith 38 confirmed cases currently, the purpose-built workers accommodation Westlite Toh Guan was among the two facilities to be isolated in Singapore on Sunday. There, a total of 6,800 residents are spread across 687 apartment units with an average of eight to 10 occupants per room, according to emails with Centurion Corporation, which owns the buildings. The units include bathrooms, a kitchen, showers and dining space.Like the other gazetted dormitories, residents there have received care packs consisting of masks, thermometers and hand sanitizer, and “after some initial hitches” meals are being delivered in a timely fashion, according to a government statement on Tuesday.Ah Hlaing, a Burmese caregiver at a daycare center for the elderly who shares an apartment at the dormitory with about 10 people, said after initially being upset over the new rules, she acknowledges they are necessary.She was “upset because we can’t go out and have to stay in the room,” Ah said, adding she has had access to the essentials including food and sanitary products. “We have to accept now that at this time, we can’t do anything.”Some rights groups have expressed concern the government is not doing enough.“The key vulnerability, crowding, is not really being addressed with sufficient determination,” said Alex Wu, vice president at Transient Workers Count Too, a registered charity that helps low-wage migrant workers. “Infectious diseases thrive through human proximity. In fact, requiring workers to stay in their rooms except for occasional periods will intensify contact, not reduce it.”(Updates with new infection data in second paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Company News for Apr 9, 2020
    Zacks

    Company News for Apr 9, 2020

    Companies In The News Are: CAT, MRO, GM, RPM.

  • Starbucks Revokes 2020 Guidance on Coronavirus Concerns
    Zacks

    Starbucks Revokes 2020 Guidance on Coronavirus Concerns

    Starbucks (SBUX) withdraws 2020 guidance and provides preliminary second-quarter fiscal 2020 earnings.

  • Fauci Sees Far Fewer U.S. Deaths; More Fed Aid: Virus Update
    Bloomberg

    Fauci Sees Far Fewer U.S. Deaths; More Fed Aid: Virus Update

    (Bloomberg) -- Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said fatalities in the country might be lower than previously thought. While deaths are now slowing in parts of Europe, they are still accelerating in the U.S., which is on track to overtake Italy in the coming days.The Federal Reserve announced another series of sweeping steps to provide as much as $2.3 trillion in additional aid, and Americans applied for jobless benefits in massive numbers for a third straight week. General Electric Co. withdrew its forecast.Spain reported fewer coronavirus-related deaths and is poised to extend a nationwide lockdown. Curbs are likely to remain in Britain, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues to improve in intensive care.Key Developments:Global cases 1.5 million; deaths pass 89,000: Johns HopkinsSpain, Italy to extend lockdowns amid persistent rise in casesUBS, Credit Suisse will split payouts for 2019 into two installmentsSouth Korea’s CDC says virus may “reactivate” in cured patientsWorld economy faces $5 trillion hit, that’s like losing JapanFed Announces Plan for Muni, Business Aid; Jobless Claims (8:43 a.m. NY)The steps announced include starting programs to aid small and mid-sized businesses, as well as state and local governments.A total of 6.61 million Americans filed jobless claims in the week ended April 4, according to Labor Department figures released Thursday. That exceeded a median forecast of 5.5 million.Deaths in Sweden Increase Amid Relatively Relaxed Stance (8:41 a.m. NY)Sweden reported 106 more virus-related deaths on Thursday, taking the total to 793, on par with the daily gains reported in the past week. The Nordic country is under scrutiny as it continues to experiment with a laxer policy response compared with the rest of Europe. Restaurants, shopping centers and primary schools all remain open in Scandinavia’s biggest economy. Deaths in Sweden continue to outpace its Nordic neighbors, which implemented stricter measures to curb the spread early on, and are now discussing how to lift them.U.S. Virus Fatalities Looking More Like 60,000, Fauci Says (8:10 a.m. NY)“I believe we are going to see a downturn” and projections look “more like the 60,000 than the 100,000 to 200,000,” National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases chief Anthony Fauci said in response to an NBC interview question about virus fatality models. Fauci said he thinks the U.S. is starting to see a flattening of the curve in New York. “I don’t want to jump the gun on that but I think that is the case,” he said.Pfizer to Develop Vaccine by Year-End (8 a.m. NY)Pfizer and BioNTech said they will jointly develop a vaccine for Covid-19, potentially supplying millions of doses by the end of 2020. The two companies plan to jointly conduct the first clinical trials as early as the end of April, assuming regulatory clearance. Clinical trials for the vaccine candidates will initially be in the U.S. and Europe across multiple sites.Earlier, IBio jumped 25% in pre-market trading after reaching an agreement with the Infectious Disease Research Institute to support development of a vaccine for Covid-19. And Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding got an FDA “may proceed” letter to begin a Phase 2 trial of intranasal vazegepant to treat lung inflammation after COVID-19 infection.U.K. PM Johnson Continues to Improve (7:58 a.m. NY)“The prime minister had a good night and continues to improve in intensive care in St Thomas’ Hospital,” Boris Johnson’s spokesman James Slack told reporters. Johnson is “receiving standard oxygen treatment,” Slack said. U.K. officials are drawing up plans to extend the lockdown and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will chair a meeting of the government’s emergency committee at 3:30 p.m.World Hunger Could Double (7:56 a.m. NY)The number of people going hungry around the world could double in just a few months as the pandemic wreaks havoc on food supplies and hurts incomes, according to a group of major food companies, industry bodies and academics. The number of those suffering from chronic hunger may surge from about 800 million.Charity group Oxfam had earlier warned the economic hit from coronavirus threatens to put more than half a billion people into poverty unless countries take action to cushion the blow.Netherlands Reports Slowest Hospital Intake (7:50 a.m. NY)The Netherlands recorded 237 new hospital intakes, a 3% increase and marking the lowest daily gain since the outbreak began. Confirmed cases rose 6% to 21,762, while fatalities advanced 7% to a total of 2,396.London Delays Pollution Controls for Trucks (7:40 a.m. NY)London delayed the start of stricter pollution controls for trucks in the capital, because the pandemic has put too much pressure on supply chains. New minimum standards for freight are due to come into force in October with fines of as much as 550 pounds ($683) per day. Enforcement will be delayed for at least four months, Transport for London said. It’s already suspended other pollution and congestion charges for cars and van, to ensure deliveries can take place and for key workers to travel.Irish Unemployment Soars (7:20 a.m. NY)Irish unemployment may have risen to its highest level since 1988, in the latest sign of the impact of the coronavirus on the economy. Unemployment rose to 16.5% last month if it is adjusted to include people receiving government support because of the coronavirus crisis, the Central Statistics Office said in a statement. The adjusted rate “should be considered as the upper bound for the true rate of unemployment,” it said.U.S. Poised to Pass Italy With Deadliest Outbreak (7:07 a.m. NY)The U.S. is on track for a grim milestone in the coming days -- passing Italy as the world’s epicenter of Covid-19 mortality. Deaths from the virus were at about 14,800 in the U.S. as of Thursday morning and still accelerating, while Italy had more than 17,600 fatalities and the pace was beginning to slow, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The U.S. has logged about 2,000 deaths each of the past two days, while in Italy, the number has hovered around 550 daily deaths.German Study Finds Virus in 15% of Hard-Hit Town (6 a.m. NY)The coronavirus probably infected 15% of people in Gangelt, a small town in the hard-hit rural German region of Heinsberg, researchers said in preliminary results after using antibody tests to sample a random portion of the population. On that basis, the case mortality rate in the town so far would be 0.37%, less than one-fifth of the mortality rate based on confirmed positive tests in Germany as a whole, the researchers said.The difference is because the antibody test picked up mild cases of the virus that had previously gone unnoticed. The researchers didn’t disclose how many lab-confirmed cases of the virus had previously been found in the 12,500-person town. In the Heinsberg region as a whole, less than 1% of the population has tested positive for the virus, and 44 patients have died, according to the Robert Koch Institute.Infections and Deaths in Spain Slow (6 a.m. NY)Spain reported fewer coronavirus deaths and new cases on Thursday in Europe’s second-most deadly outbreak of the disease. There were 5,756 new infections in the 24 hours through Thursday, pushing the total above 150,000, according to Health Ministry data. The death toll rose by 683 to 15,238, a smaller gain than Wednesday’s 757.Iran also reported a decline in cases and fatalities. The health ministry reported 1,634 new cases, down from 1,997, and 117 deaths, down from 121. That brings the country’s total to 66,220 cases and 4,110 fatalities.India Steps Up Stringent Lockdown Measures (5:54 p.m. HK)India has further tightened lockdown measures and enhanced surveillance at hundreds of areas designated as virus hotspots, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the epidemic as a “social emergency.” Authorities have sealed settlements, lanes and apartment complexes in the financial capital Mumbai, as well as in Delhi and the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh, allowing in only medical services, surveillance workers and those delivering food and other essential items.Botswana Quarantines Lawmakers (5:35 p.m. HK)Botswana is placing its entire cabinet and members of parliament in quarantine after a health worker screening lawmakers for coronavirus was found to be infected. All lawmakers, as well as President Mokgweetsi Masisi, will go into quarantine on Thursday.KLM, Philips Set Up China Airlink (5:20 p.m. HK)Air France-KLM will start a temporary airlink to China with support from Royal Philips NV and the Dutch government to increase the transport capacity of medical equipment and other supplies between China, Europe, and the U.S. KLM will temporarily return two Boeing 747s which it phased out last month to operate five weekly flights to Beijing and Shanghai from its base at Amsterdam Schiphol.The first flight is set to take of on April 13, and add to the “skeleton operation” Air France-KLM announced earlier today, which includes regular cargo flights to destinations around the world, including the U.S. The operations are expected to remain in place for six to eight weeks.Indonesia Reports Highest One-Day Virus Deaths (5:10 p.m. HK)Indonesia reported the largest number of deaths in a single day since the outbreak and new confirmed cases continued to climb in the world’s fourth-most populous nation. The death toll jumped to 280 with 40 more fatalities reported in the past 24 hours, while the number of new cases surged by 337, the highest since the country reported its first case in early March, taking total infections to 3,293.Italian Cabinet Meets (4:45 p.m. HK)Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was set to hold a cabinet meeting at 11 a.m. in Rome. La Stampa reported earlier that the government plans to extend its lockdown by two weeks as scientists warn Conte that it’s too early to relax confinement measures,. The government will approve a decree on Friday to extend the closures beyond the current April 13 expiration date, the newspaper said.Conte told BBC the country may start easing the lockdown by the end of the month. If scientists confirm that Italy can start a gradual return to activity, “we might begin to relax some measures by the end of this month,” he said. Italian steelmakers are in talks with the government to restart at reduced capacity in the coming weeks.Luxembourg to Start Mass Testing (4:30 p.m. HK)Luxembourg will become the first EU country to start mass testing its citizens, regardless of whether they show coronavirus symptoms or not. The move is important, as mass testing to isolate carriers and prevent new surges is a condition for the lifting of restrictions on movement, according to a draft “exit strategy” memo by the European Commission, seen by Bloomberg.The tiny Grand Duchy, which has one of the highest infection rates in the world in its population of just over 600,000, will this week start a new series of tests to evaluate “the dynamics of the spread” among citizens. The project will consist of 1,500 tests first on a sample of people over the age of 18 and follow-up tests will then be done only on those that are asymptomatic and show mild symptoms, the nation’s health ministry said. The tests could provide the first comprehensive data on herd immunity.EU Agency Recommends Use of Face Masks (4:15 p.m. HK)The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control now recommends the widespread use of face masks to reduce the spread of the infection. While face protection is seen only complementary to other measures, such as social distancing and personal hygiene, “the use of face masks in the community could be considered, especially when visiting busy, closed spaces, such as grocery stores, shopping centers, or when using public transport,” according to the EU agency.The debate over whether face masks can help contain the spread of Covid-19 is shifting quickly, with more countries requiring citizens to cover their faces in public.Dubai Freezes Hiring, New Projects (4 p.m. HK)Dubai’s government is freezing all hiring and cutting administrative spending by at least 20% across departments as the coronavirus pandemic squeezes state revenue. The emirate’s Department of Finance also ordered a 50% reduction in capital spending and a delay to new government construction projects until further notice, according to a letter seen by Bloomberg.China Says Accusations It Covered Up Virus are Groundless (3:52 p.m. HK)Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters at a daily briefing in Beijing that the World Health Organization had upheld the nation’s objective and science-based position.Russia Cases Jump Again (3:50 p.m. HK)Russia reported 1,459 new cases, up 17%, taking its total to 10,131. This is the country’s biggest daily jump yet, and Russia has now reported more than 1,000 cases for three straight days. Total deaths rose by 13 to 76.Tokyo Finds at Least 180 New Cases (3:46 p.m. HK)Tokyo found at least 180 new cases of coronavirus, the highest number yet in a single day, FNN reported in a flash headline, without attribution. NTV later reported the number at 181.Sweden Hits Back at Trump’s ‘Herd Immunity’ Criticism (3:44 p.m. HK)“He has used a factual error,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said in an interview with TV4. Her comments follow Trump’s remarks a day earlier when he told reporters that Sweden is trying to achieve “herd immunity” and “is suffering greatly” from not doing enough.The Nordic country is under intense scrutiny as it continues to experiment with a laxer policy response to the virus despite an accelerating death toll. Restaurants, shopping centers and primary schools all remain open in Scandinavia’s biggest economy.Goldman Sees Virus Causing $75 Billion Funding Hole in Africa (3:28 p.m. HK)“Possibly the most severe impact of the crisis will be on already stretched fiscal balances,” Dylan Smith and Andrew Matheny, Goldman’s economists in London, said in a note. “Budget deficits would likely rise from an average of around 3.5% to high single digits, even before any loosening to soften the economic effects of the corona-crisis.”Earlier, the World Bank said Sub-Saharan Africa will post its first recession in 25 years as the coronavirus pandemic brings economies to a halt and disrupts global trade.U.K. Economy Shrinks (2:57 p.m. HK)The U.K. economy unexpectedly contracted in February, putting it on an unsteady footing even before the nation imposed more stringent restrictions to contain the coronavirus. GDP fell 0.1% from January, with the downturn driven by a huge drop in construction, the Office for National Statistics said Thursday.The government signaled plans to borrow directly from the Bank of England, easing the pressure to immediately sell bonds for the billions it needs to support the economy through the coronavirus pandemic. The Treasury said Thursday that it’s increasing the long-standing “Ways and Means facility,” a short-term overdraft that it can use if needed to smooth its cash flow and support the functioning of markets.UBS, Credit Suisse Delay Dividends (2:00 p.m. HK)Switzerland’s two biggest banks proposed pushing back dividend payments as the spreading coronavirus roils markets and upends businesses.Credit Suisse Group AG said on Thursday its board proposes to pay half of its 2019 dividend and intends to distribute the rest in the fall of this year. UBS Group AG, meanwhile, has proposed shareholders approve the bank’s previously announced dividend of $0.73 for the 2019 financial year be paid in two installments, according to an emailed statement.Investors in British-listed companies could lose as much as half of their dividend income this year, according to a report from Link Group. More than a fifth of companies on the European benchmark Stoxx 600 Index have canceled or postponed dividends in recent weeks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • ‘It’s Just Like Ticketmaster’: Playing the Delivery Slot Lottery During Covid-19
    Bloomberg

    ‘It’s Just Like Ticketmaster’: Playing the Delivery Slot Lottery During Covid-19

    (Bloomberg) -- Cara McIlwaine recently lost her marketing job due to the economic collapse wrought by the coronavirus. Finding a new gig at the moment isn't easy, and it doesn't help that she's had to spend just as much time lately on another essential project -- securing an online grocery delivery slot. For four days last month, McIlwaine, who has a toddler at home, tried and failed to secure a delivery time from Fresh Direct Inc., resorting to obscure Reddit forums to discern the time when new slots came available. The screen listing available delivery windows would invariably freeze, and when it came back, everything was taken.“It’s just like Ticketmaster,” she said. “I genuinely don’t think I will ever get a time again.”Across the country, millions of consumers are turning to Fresh Direct, Instacart Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Peapod and other services to fill their fridges via online delivery rather than brave going to a supermarket. But many are finding that the online grocery networks have been completely knocked flat by a triple whammy of unprecedented demand, unreliable inventory and unavailable employees. While early reports from the pandemic suggested that shuttered stores and shut-in consumers would be a boon for e-commerce, the sudden growth spurt has grocers scrambling to soothe harried shoppers and worried whether disgruntled first-time web shoppers will go back online once the crisis passes.“Everyone is struggling,” said Brendan Witcher, a digital strategy analyst at Forrester Research. “Supply chains are designed to not break from a single incident, but now multiple incidents are hitting all at once and that has caused a breakdown. People in the industry know the reasons, but the average consumer does not know why there is a problem. All they know is this is a bad experience.”Fresh Direct said in a social media posting that it’s “working around the clock” to fill orders but it has many fewer employees. “An easy solution is not in sight,” it said. Before the pandemic, online shoppers accounted for about 5% of the $800 billion U.S. grocery market, with most online orders going to Walmart, Instacart and Amazon. The social-distancing era could easily double that, some analysts thought.  A survey from RBC Capital found that more than a third of those who have shopped for groceries online over the past month were doing so for the first time.Such rosy projections, though, don’t square with the angst-ridden reality many people now face. Nearly one in three Americans surveyed by market researcher CivicScience on April 6 said they had a problem with a recent online order. That explains why the likelihood that a shopper will use a specific service again plummeted from 74% in August to 43% in March, according to Brick Meets Click, a retail sales and marketing firm.Take Steve Faktor, who runs an innovation consultancy in New York. He’s a big fan of Trader Joe’s, but the quirky chain doesn't deliver in New York City anymore and Faktor could do without the long queues and masks. So he tried Fresh Direct, only to be stymied by a dearth of delivery slots.“People like me are searching for options right now,” he said. “I know times are challenging, but it’s a missed opportunity for them.”Mason Kalfus, a 44-year-old legal recruiter in Washington, D.C., has taken to shopping at Fresh Direct, Amazon and occasionally Peapod or Instacart.  “All of the services now are a disaster,” he says, ticking off his grievances. He’s annoyed at Amazon, which fulfills some online orders through its Whole Foods Market chain, for allowing him to fill an entire cart when there were no delivery slots available, “so I just wasted all that time.”Fresh Direct — which doesn’t operate any stores and delivers from warehouses along the East Coast — earned his ire for not communicating what items in his basket were out of stock until he submitted his order, like the low-sodium imported lacey swiss cheese. So instead of  $100 of groceries, he ended up with just $23 worth. Kalfus is one of many shoppers hedging their slot bets, downloading multiple apps and refreshing order pages at all hours of the day in the hopes that a precious window will open. Downloads of Walmart’s grocery app rose 164% over the past five weeks, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg, while the number of active shoppers on Instacart’s platform has grown from 200,000 to more than 350,000. “The customer demand we expected over  the next two-to-four years has happened on the Instacart platform in the last two-to-four weeks,” CEO Apoorva Mehta said. Traffic to Peapod, which is owned by the U.S. subsidiary of European grocer Ahold Delhaize, has risen as much as fivefold on certain days recently, e-commerce chief J.J. Fleeman said in an interview.But all that traffic means little if customers can’t buy anything -- delivery slots for Peapod in some high-demand zip codes are sold out for two weeks, Fleeman said, so it’s adding drivers and has ordered several thousand new wrist-mounted mobile devices that help associates fulfill orders.Walmart has compressed its window of pickup slots from one week to two or three days to ease the burden on its more than 40,000 online order-pickers and reduce the potential for out-of-stock items. Instacart has introduced a service called “Fast and Flexible” whereby customers can get orders picked by the next available Instacart shopper, rather than schedule it for a specific window.  While some shoppers say they sympathize, others are not so kind, and conspiracy theories now abound on social media and Reddit forums about nefarious delivery algorithms, along with accusations that online grocers are giving longtime users short shrift to lure new customers on board. It doesn’t help that some workers at Instacart and Shipt, a delivery service owned by Target Corp. that delivers to its customers and those of other retailers, have walked off the job to protest what they claim are unsafe working conditions.  Some intrepid web developers have even created browser extensions -- bots, basically -- that will scour delivery slots and ping you when one opens up.Kelly Caruso, Shipt's CEO, said the company will supply safety kits with gloves and hand sanitizer to those who pick groceries in high-risk areas. Instacart said it "absolutely" respects the rights of workers to voice their concerns.Some smaller grocers are going old school to keep shoppers happy. Caputo’s, a chain of seven supermarkets in the Chicago suburbs, had to suspend home deliveries when it got too busy. But when an elderly person who’s a good customer called, Matt Idstein, the company’s e-commerce director, took her order, found her items in the aisles, threw the bags in his own car and dropped it all off at her house. “She thought I was just a new delivery driver,” Idstein says. “She really had no idea.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Can Disney+'s Solid User Base Bail Out Battered Disney (DIS)?
    Zacks

    Can Disney+'s Solid User Base Bail Out Battered Disney (DIS)?

    Disney's (DIS) streaming service Disney+'s viewership crosses 50 million with a spurt in paid subscribers that reflects its solid content portfolio.

  • E-learning a Rising Trend Amid Coronavirus Crisis: 3 Stocks
    Zacks

    E-learning a Rising Trend Amid Coronavirus Crisis: 3 Stocks

    The technology industry has been gaining traction in the wake of the pandemic on a surge in trends like e-learning.

  • Costco's March Comps Rise on Coronavirus-Led Panic Buying
    Zacks

    Costco's March Comps Rise on Coronavirus-Led Panic Buying

    Even amid such crisis Costco (COST) looks quite resilient owing to the company's business model and products it offers, which have been in demand since the coronavirus outbreak.