Aug 13, 2021 - Economy

Companies' mixed messages about Delta variant's impact

Illustration of an open briefcase with a delta sign

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Companies are experiencing different degrees of impact from the recent COVID spike.

Why it matters: While many businesses have adapted to new realities and many people have become fully vaccinated, Delta's spread is proving somewhat disruptive.

What they’re saying: In the past week, a number of companies have addressed questions regarding the spike since the beginning of the third quarter.

  • Southwest Airlines warned of a sharp deterioration in business in recent weeks, a challenge that is affecting all airlines.
  • Airbnb, however, said, "in the last few weeks, we had our biggest night ever in the U.S. and our biggest night globally since the pandemic began."
  • Aramark, which provides on-site food services, says the disruption is "really limited mostly to companies and their return-to-work strategies." Though executives don’t think it’ll impact colleges, sporting arenas and entertainment venues.
  • Foodservice competitor Sysco shared that sentiment, noting it did not experience any impact in July tied to Delta. However, CEO Kevin Hourican cautioned that they couldn’t predict whether the government might step in with new restrictions.
  • Casper Sleep president Emilie Arel said Tuesday that people were still out shopping, saying, "To date, we are seeing week-over-week improvements on foot traffic."
  • Bumble has experienced no slowdown in activity on its dating app. "When COVID accelerates and loneliness climbs, people turn to us for connections," Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd said on Wednesday.

The big picture: "With the rise in mortality and hospitalization rates expected to be far smaller than during the second wave, we expected policy restrictions to be limited and the turn towards caution by the private sector to be more modest," says JPMorgan chief economist Bruce Kasman.

Yes, but: Callaway Golf CEO Chip Brewer warns that U.S. demand isn’t the issue.

  • "It has caused further supply disruptions from factories based in and around Southeast Asia, primarily Vietnam," Brewer said. "These shutdowns will have an estimated $55 million negative impact on second-half revenues."
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