With hundreds of millions of Americans staying at home a lot more due to the coronavirus pandemic, drivers for ride-share service Lyft (LYFT -2.75%) have experienced a significant drop-off in fares.
But here comes Amazon (AMZN -2.78%) with a new gig for some of them -- delivering packages and groceries.
As COVID-19 has spread, the e-commerce giant has become an even more essential retail operator, bringing food and merchandise to consumers even as some brick and mortar retailers have closed stores, and many people -- concerned for their health -- are avoiding even those supermarkets and stores that remain open.
Indeed, Amazon is a bit strapped for manpower amid its surging demand, which gives it plenty of incentive to offer a lifeline to cash-strapped drivers. Lyft notified its drivers they could "earn additional income right now" by working for Amazon as a grocery shopper, delivery person, or warehouse worker.
Driving forward to help drivers
AdAge reports that ride-sharing companies have seen a 20% drop in demand, which has led to an 11% decline in ride pricing. But where the drivers for rival Uber (UBER -0.74%) have been able to supplement their incomes as delivery-people for Uber Eats, which has partnered with numerous restaurants and chains to deliver orders, Lyft doesn't have a food-delivery platform.
Amazon has temporarily raised the pay of employees in its fulfillment centers and transportation operations by $2 an hour, and boosted its overtime rate from time-and-a-half to double-time as it has attempted to adjust to the enormous spike in demand. The e-commerce leader has prioritized orders for essential goods, which has meant other orders could be delayed by as long as a month.
Employing more drivers and warehouse workers could ease the crunch, and Amazon has committed to hiring 100,000 more people.
An email to Lyft drivers indicated the company was working on opening future opportunities for them to deliver groceries, coronavirus tests, and medical supplies. It has also suggested they could receive compensation under the $2.3 trillion stimulus program recently enacted.