Coronavirus update for business: A two-year retail recovery, Shopify and Sendle team up, and Elon defies the law

Elon Musk

Elon Musk on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Source: YouTube.

Uphill struggle

Research from accounting firm KPMG has laid out a bleak outlook for the retail, hospitality and air travel industries, suggesting it could take two years for them to fully recover from the coronavirus pandemic and economic shutdown.

The research suggests the economy as a whole may not recoup its losses until the September quarter 2021.

KMPG suggested economic activity in the food services and retail sector could be back to 50% of pre-COVID levels by June 2020.

But it’s likely to be an uphill struggle from there: spending is not expected to get back to normal until March 2022.

“We have experienced the single largest shock to the economy in close to a century,” said KPMG chief economist Brendan Rynne.

“The economy’s fundamentals were relatively sound going into this, but what you are seeing is an unprecedented decline in activity in parts of the economy which have effectively been turned off.”

Special delivery

E-commerce business Shopify is teaming up with delivery service Sendle to offer an easier way for SMEs to get their goods out to click-happy online-shopping Aussies.

The partnership is intended to provide more reliable, and more eco-friendly, e-commerce delivery options during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Online transactions in Australia have, rather predictably, leapt by 111%, year-on-year. That’s putting pressure on Australia Post, and left many businesses and consumers hungry for alternatives.

“Shipping can be one of the more complex parts of a business to set up and manage, and one of the costliest,” Rhys Furner, Shopify’s head of partnerships for APAC, said in a statement.

“Merchants need all the help and support they can get.”

Snack attack

As you consider the widespread disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, spare a thought for those in the snack space, who are feeling the knock-on effects of grounded planes and closed offices.

Airlines are reportedly diverting surplus nibbles to food waste businesses.

At the same time, while some businesses are sending their employees snack supplies, others are reportedly considering rethinking their kitchen cupboard budgets for when offices re-open.

Multi-billion-dollar tech giant Google has made it clear that home-office munchies may not be expensed.

Sigh. The world is truly changing.

Tweet carefully

Twitter is taking up arms against COVID-19 misinformation, adding labels and warnings to tweets that contain either disputed or misleading claims about the pandemic.

The new labels will provide links to more information, and will be used in cases where people could be confused, but where the tweet is not severe enough to be removed.

The social media platform may also show a warning that a tweet conflicts with guidance from public health experts, before a reader can view it.

“We’re not waiting for a third party to have made a cast-iron decision one way or another,” Twitter’s public policy director Nick Pickles told Reuters.

“We’re reflecting the debate, rather than stating the outcome of a deliberation,” he added.

Caged birds don’t tweet

Having clearly not dominated enough headlines lately, Elon Musk has invited not only criticism but actual arrest by re-opening Tesla’s factory against the orders of its local county.

“Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules,” the eccentric entrepreneur said in a tweet.

“I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

Musk later suggested that California state has approved the factory’s reopening, but the local county officials “illegally overrode”.

Musk has been campaigning to have Tesla manufacturing classed as an ‘essential service’, to no avail. He has also previously railed against the US’s stay-at-home orders, calling the rules “fascist”.

He has also just become a new parent to baby boy X Æ A-12, with singer Grimes. So perhaps now is not the time to get yourself hauled to jail?

The tweet has attracted criticism, with Twitter users calling him “another selfish billionaire”, and expressing concern for the factory workers.

However, one astute Reddit user noted that perhaps this will be good for Tesla stock, as “Elon cannot tweet from jail”.

Silver linings and all that.

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