Amazon has said it could record its first loss in five years despite a hike in revenue as it spends at least $4bn (£3.2bn) in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
While other traditional shops have been forced to shut because of the COVID-19 lockdown, the online retailing giant recruited an extra 175,000 workers to cope with a surge in orders during the pandemic.
In normal circumstances, the company would earn an operating profit of at least $4bn (£3.2bn) over the period – but the eCommerce giant says its costs will rise by that amount or more as it responds to the pandemic.
The money is being spent on employing additional staff, overtime, buying protective equipment such as masks, and disinfecting its massive warehouses where orders are packed and sent out.
Amazon also has plans to test workers for COVID-19, as part of measures aimed at ensuring the business can continue to operate, amid safety concerns.
The company forecasts its operating income will range from a loss of $1.5bn (£1.2bn) to a profit of $1.5bn, compared with $3.1bn (£2.5bn) in the same quarter last year.
It came as Amazon reported a profit fall of 29% in the first quarter of the year as the costs of posting millions of packages to house-bound customers rose.
The Seattle-based company reported net income of $2.5bn (£2bn) for the period, compared with $3.6bn (£2.9bn) a year ago, while revenue was up 26% $75.5bn (£60bn).
While the shares in the firm fell in response, they remain up overall by more than 10% since mid-February, while the wider stock market has sunk.
Kim Khan, US markets analyst at Investing.com said: “Amazon built its commanding position by spending all its
cash to grow before it became the profit-making machine it is today.
“It’s doing the same thing during this lockdown period and will likely come out a winner again.”