By Krystal Hu
(Reuters) – Amazon.com will stop shipping non-essential products to consumers in Italy and France, the company said on Saturday, representing an escalation in the e-commerce giant’s response in regions hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
An Amazon spokesman said the company made the decision due to a spike in orders and the need to respect anti-coronavirus safety measures in the workplaces.
“We will temporarily stop taking orders on some non-essential products on Amazon.it and Amazon.fr,” Amazon.com said in a statement. “This lets fulfillment center associates focus on receiving and shipping the products customers need most at this time.”
Amazon considers baby products; health and household items; beauty and personal care; groceries; and industrial, scientific, and pet supplies as essential products.
The world’s largest online retailer said consumers in Italy and France can still order non-essential products from sellers on Amazon who do not use Amazon logistics to fulfill and ship orders, but deliveries could take longer.
More than 274,800 people have been infected with coronavirus across the world and 11,389 have died, according to a Reuters tally. In Italy, the death toll rose by 18.4% on Friday, reaching 4,032. France reported 78 new deaths on Friday, reaching a total of 450.
Both countries have announced lock down orders to slow the spread of the virus.
The move comes on the heels of actions Amazon took on Tuesday when it said it will only receive vital supplies at its U.S. and UK and other European warehouses until April 5 to free up inventory space for medical and household goods.
“Effective immediately, Amazon will stop receiving FBA (fulfillment by Amazon) orders from customers on non-essential products on its Italy (Amazon.it) and France (Amazon.fr) site, so that operations employees can focus on fulfilling and delivering on the orders that consumers need the most now,” according to a message Amazon.com sent to Chinese sellers over the WeChat social media platform.
The announcement was made to China-based sellers who may see their businesses taking a hit. Chinese sellers account for 45% of active sellers on Amazon.fr, and 44% on Amazon.it, according to data from Marketplace Pulse, an e-commerce research firm.
(Reporting by Krystal Hu in New York; Additional reporting by Elvira Pollina in Milan; Editing by Kenneth Li, Vanessa O’Connell and Chris Reese)