Amazon’s holiday prep apparently includes laying off some 10,000 workers, according to multiple media reports on Monday, in the latest round of layoffs to hit the tech and retail sectors.
The e-tail giant, of course, traverses both industries, and its reported staff reduction — the largest for the company — could come as soon as this week, inside sources told The New York Times. Other outlets independently corroborated the news.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a WWD request for comment.
The round of layoffs will reportedly hit Amazon’s devices, retail and human resources divisions. With the total number of roles to be down-sized in flux or “fluid,” according to the report, the 10,000 figure seems to be a ball park number. At that quantity, however, it would represent some 3 percent of the company’s corporate staff.
The marketplace surged as online shopping exploded during the pandemic, but after ramping up hiring and logistics to quickly meet the demand, the company emerged to face one of its most challenging periods yet. Easing health and safety restrictions meant the public is no longer a captive audience, adding to pressures of rising inflation and supply chain complications. It all folds into a string of disappointing earnings quarters, including its latest, when it warned that it may merely break even this holiday season.
Amazon chose to freeze hiring, while it looks to trim costs. But perhaps that math didn’t work out well enough.
The news arrives after tech giants such as Meta and Twitter, now under Elon Musk, signaled they would shed thousands of staffers — Meta’s tally alone numbers more than 11,000 — feeding into the 9,587 tech jobs lost in October. That’s the highest peak since November 2020, according to consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Meanwhile in retail, major players like Walmart, StockX and Shopify are cutting their employee rolls.
It all feeds into a broad decline in the tech and retail markets in the year to date. At Amazon, whose growth once seemed unstoppable, shares have dropped 40 percent.
The impact of Amazon’s decision, as it comes just ahead of the winter shopping season, isn’t clear. But a lot is clearly on the line, making the ever-crucial holiday quarter more important than ever. While the National Retail Federation expects up to an 8 percent uptick in holiday spending this year, Amazon still warned that it may make $0 profit. Apparently, it’s doing everything it can to ensure that doesn’t actually happen.
Then again, it could be making a bad situation worse.
Last month, chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky insisted that Amazon is still “bullish” on the holidays, but was merely being conservative about the projections. He extolled the virtues of the platform’s efficiency, turning over stock at a faster clip now than even during the pandemic, and and chief executive officer Andy Jassy highlighted its value and convenience in “these uncertain economic times.”
Now the company — a business already dogged by a reputation for burning out workers — will have to maintain that with 10,000 or so fewer people.