Coronavirus: Amazon to stop receiving non-essential items to UK and US warehouses

Amazon will be prioritising essential products at its UK and US warehouses. (Getty)

Amazon (AMZN) is banning sellers from sending non-essential items to its UK and US warehouses until 5 April, according to Reuters.

The online marketplace told sellers that due to a surge in online shopping demand combined with household staples and medical supplies running out of stock, the company will prioritise specific goods in order to “quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers.”

The move comes as an attempt to create more inventory space for essential supplies that are in shortage as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Amazon will continue receiving five categories of essential products to its warehouses — Baby Product, Health & Household, Beauty & Personal Care, Grocery, Industrial & Scientific and Pet Supplies.

Amazon has also announced it will hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the US to handle the coronavirus related jump in sales.

The online retailer has said it will increase pay for its staff in the UK, US and Europe until the end of April.

Employees at Amazon's UK warehouses are being told to work overtime to tackle the huge demand, despite government advice to reduce social contact.

Read more: Amazon to increase staff pay in the UK, US, and Europe

The GMB union said that workers from at least four different UK warehouses were informed that they had to work “compulsory overtime” from Monday, according to the BBC.

Amazon employs 27,000 people across 17 warehouses in the UK.

More than half of the sales on Amazon are through third-party sellers.

Amazon was previously trying to persuade sellers to use its own fulfilment system, whereby sellers store their products in Amazon's warehouses to be picked, packed, and shipped by the company. Amazon charges a fee for managing the storage and delivery process.

This is is popular with many sellers who import products from manufacturers in other countries, including China, and directly send them to Amazon warehouses, helping them with faster delivery without having to store all their own stock.

Sellers of “non-essential” products who use this system could see their items run out of stock at Amazon warehouses and they will not be to restock until the new rules are lifted.

However, sellers will still be able to trade through Amazon and send their products directly to consumers.

Read more: Coronavirus risks 'income crisis' for millions of self-employed workers

An Amazon spokesperson told the BBC: “As demand continues to increase, we are working to ensure we can continue to deliver to the most-impacted customers while keeping our people safe.

“Many of these customers have no other way to get essential items and we want to be sure that we have the right resources in place to deliver on their needs.

“Starting this week, we'll be prioritising the intake and dispatch of items most needed by our customers right now. These are items such as food, health and personal care products, items needed to work from home, books and toys for children.”

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