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Supply Chain by the Numbers

- March 26, 2020 -

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for March 26, 2020

Retailer Boosting Wages, Adding Jobs; From Underwear to Face Masks at Hanes; Truck Rates and Deadheading Rising; USPS at Risk, Lawmakers Say



That is by how much Walmart is – temporarily – raising hourly wages for workers in its ecommerce distribution centers, following the lead of some of its competitors, as it hopes to be able to hold on to enough workers to handle the surge of on-line orders coming along with the coronavirus crisis. Walmart said the hike will increase entry wages for workers in ecommerce DCs to between $15 and $19 an hour effective immediately through Memorial Day. That after similar moves by Rivals such as Amazon and Target, which have also boosted pay and gone on a hiring spree to manage a surge in orders while many clothing and mall-based retailers have been forced to shut their retail doors. Meanwhile, leading retailers have collectively stated they will hire about 500,000 new works to meet consumer demand in store and on-line. Amazon alone says it has 100,000 open positions. Dollar General says it plans to nearly double its normal hiring rate and add up to 50,000 employees by the end of April.


1.5 Million

That is how many face masks underwear and apparel company Hanes Brands plans to be able to make weekly, as it transitions its business in the face of the coronavirus crisis, the urgent need for more masks in the US, and a likely big drop in apparel sales. The company said its mask design was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration when N95 respirator masks are not required or are unavailable. A spokesperson for Hanes said that the company is sharing its design with competitors Fruit of the Loom, SanMar and Beverly Knits, as well as the National Council of Textile Organizations, as part of an effort led by yarn manufacturer Parkdale Mills America. All told, these companies expect to be able to produce 5 million to 6 million masks weekly using Hanes Brands' design and patterns. The Gap is also jumping in, pivoting resources in some of its factories to help making masks, gowns and scrubs for medical workers.



That has been the increase in US spot market truckload rates since March 1, according to online freight marketplace DAT Solutions. That's because of a surge of shipments of many consumer goods, notably food and paper products, to retail distribution centers and then on to stores. Trucking shipments to grocery and discount stores are soaring, growing more than 50% last week from the same week last year, as retailers rush to restock depleted shelves, said freight-tracking technology provider project44 Inc. But it's not all good news for truckers. While shipments of consumer staples jump, freight in most other areas, from apparel to appliances, have collapsed. And that means truckers cannot find a return load after delivering to retailers, and must make the return trip empty, increasing costs. "We're having to redesign the network in real time," said Derek Leathers, CEO of leading truckload carrier Werner Enterprises. What's more, truckload freight brokers are bringing in drivers who may be 50 miles away from a pickup instead of the usual 5 miles to avoid deadheading, according to an executive at CH Robinson.


1 Billion

That's how many drug prescriptions orders were carried to consumers last year by the United States Post Office. Why is that news? Because the already financially strained USPS, which operates on its own budget outside of the Federal government, is likely to face even more financial woes in the face of the virus crisis – and could go bankrupt by June if Congress does not come to its rescue with bailout finds. That according to a public statement by Congresspersons Carolyn Maloney and Gerry Connolly this week. Mail volumes, it appears, are falling off a cliff early into the crisis. And beyond needing to be able to find a way to deliver medicines cost affordably, the USPS does a lot of ecommerce business too, and in effect puts a bit of a cap on how much UPS and FedEx can charge to deliver parcels. And the Postal Service still delivers about one-third of Amazon US deliveries, and is essential for Amazon orders from rural areas. As this story was being published, it was not clear if a USPS rescue package was included in the stimulus bill being finalized Wednesday night, but SCDigest can't image Congress simply allowing the Post Office to disappear.

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