Online shopping in the age of the coronavirus

Packages from numerous distributors waiting to be shipped out. Photo courtesy of Jacob Bennett from The Analytics Corner

The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has been the latest showstopper in media outlets.  The virus is known to have spread to more than 108 countries, apart from China, where it was first discovered.

The virus was first exposed in Wuhan and has since spread across the globe.  Because of the obvious health concerns, not only have in-person activities been suspended such as school, jobs and sporting events, but so has ecommerce.

Many products such as clothing, hair, and even skin care are stuck at their origin because of the virus’ mass outbreak.

“I ordered hair for my spring break trip about a week ago. They said it would only take two days to be delivered, yet, here I am a week later still waiting for my package.  For days FedEx told me it was out for delivery.  But the actual tracking said it was still in Hong Kong. I’m not really sure when I’ll get my hair, hopefully it’s before I leave for my trip but at this point who knows,” Fredricka Tucker said. Tucker is a third-year biology student at FAMU from Aiken, South Carolina.

Delays due to a halt in fulfillment do not stop there. Larger companies such as Amazon, FedEx and UPS are also experiencing delays, according to  On the fulfillment and logistics side, Amazon, UPS and FedEx have all been announcing delivery delays caused by spikes in online ordering related to coronavirus concerns.

Amazon said Prime Now and Amazon Fresh deliveries have both been impacted, according to Bloomberg, with the surge straining capacity.  Both UPS and FedEx warned of shipment disruption and delays in countries most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, according to Reuters.

“We are taking recommended precautions in terms of pilot, team member and customer health and safety,’ FedEx told Reuters, adding it is flying in and out of affected countries, but travel restrictions are affecting transit times.

Stocks have fallen and traveling is extremely limited. Some companies are going to ruin while others are seeing what they’re made of during this difficult economic time.  According to, Shares of Wayfair fell as much as 26 percent on Friday (Feb.28), and the stock had lost 22 percent already this year, Bloomberg reported. The furniture eCommerce retailer reportedly relies on China for half of its merchandise. It expects first-quarter net revenue to be from $2.235 billion to $2.275 billion. Wayfair said its outlook didn’t involve any meaningful virus impact, but it is witnessing some supply chain interruptions.

For many these delays come as an inconvenience, especially for those not directly affected by the virus.  While the indefinite suspensions can seem to be annoying, they’re quite necessary when considering all possible safety measures.

In recent news, FAMU’s Tallahassee campus and all other institutions in Florida’s State University System will not have in-person classes through April 3.  Students are strongly advised to stay away from campus until classes have officially resumed.