However, profit has fallen 29%, with founder Jeff Bezos warning of major Covid-19 related spending to come.
As reported by the Guardian, Amazon has emerged as one of the big winners of the coronavirus pandemic, announcing revenues of $75.4b in the first three months of the year – which equates to over $33m an hour.
The boom in sales – 26% higher than the same time last year – came at a cost, as profit fell 29% from a year earlier to $2.5b; and the company said there was more spending to come.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, said the company’s shareholders should ‘take a seat’ as it planned to spend $4b or more in the next three months on coronavirus-related expenses, including getting products to customers and keeping employees safe. Jeff explained: “This includes investments in personal protective equipment, enhanced cleaning of our facilities, less efficient process paths that better allow for effective social distancing, higher wages for hourly teams, and hundreds of millions to develop our own Covid-19 testing capabilities.”
The $4b spend will be equal to Amazon’s entire profit for the next quarter, and its shares sank on the news.
Amazon’s net sales rose to $46b for the first quarter, up from $35.8b for the same period last year. The company also benefitted from a $10.3b boost from Amazon Web Services, its web hosting service, which counts Netflix among its clients as well as the World Health Organisation.
The boom in sales has further added to Jeff Bezo’s enormous wealth. Already the world’s richest man, he has seen his fortune swell by $13b this month to $145b, as Amazon’s share price hit new highs.
While Amazon’s soaring sales have boosted its fortunes, workers at Amazon warehouses and its Whole Foods supermarket chain have protested that the company has not done enough to protect them from the coronavirus. Protests are planned at some of its US sites today.