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Why Small Businesses Are Embracing the Freelance Gig Economy in Current COVID-19 Crisis

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PALM BEACH, Florida, May 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — As people limit their ventures out and restaurants are forced to go takeout-only in many cities, food delivery services are seeing an explosion in demand during the pandemic. Instacart, which delivers for grocers including Safeway and Aldi, saw the highest ever customer demand on its platform last weekend, and has the most “shoppers,” that they’ve ever had, according to the platform. The boom in food delivery services is the opposite of what other GIG platforms are experiencing with Covid-19, as Uber driving earnings fall and Congress’s pandemic aid package which mostly didn’t cover GIG workers, according to an article in Bloomberg LawResearch from LinkedIn and Intuit indicates the gig economy is here to stay. That’s good news for most small businesses. There’s never been stronger freelance talent to choose from, in so many skill sets and professions, than today. If you own or manage a small business, you’d be hard-pressed to identify a need you couldn’t fill with a freelancer. Active companies in the markets this week include ShiftPixy, Inc. (NASDAQ: PIXY), Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), Blue Apron Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: APRN), Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX), Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT).

The Freelancers Union’s annual report found that up to 55 million people this year – representing 35% of the total US workforce – are in the freelance workforce. The research anticipates a record 43% of the workforce taking part in the gig economy by 2020. LinkedIn’s research also supports an increased supply of freelance hours: The LinkedIn article continued: “As small businesses embrace the gig economy, owners and managers can hire freelancers to take on specific scopes of work in specified timeframes. When you assign your contracted worker to a pressing short-term project, it eases the stress and workload of your staff. It also brings more flexibility and agility to your budgeting. When you need to scale up or down, your hiring can reflect that without the traditional overhead that comes with employees.”

ShiftPixy, Inc. (NASDAQ: PIXY) BREAKING NEWS: Native Delivery More Vital Than Ever During COVID-19 ShiftPixy today announced a new initiative as part of its Restaurant Resilience Plan, to help restaurants reclaim their brand and customer relationships via native delivery amid COVID-19. Consumers now have a heightened sensitivity regarding the safety of their food, and higher standards for the personnel delivering it. ShiftPixy’s native delivery solution enables restaurants to repurpose their own, food safety trained staff to facilitate deliveries, reclaim their brand and forgo their reliance on third-party platforms.

Today, many restaurants are reliant on third-party delivery partners, but the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked concern for multi-unit franchises and the brands they operate under, leading them to reevaluate who is managing their customer relationships. For operators now relying largely on off-premise orders, it’s more vital than ever for vetted employees, trained in social distancing standards and sanitation procedures, to deliver food to the end consumer.

“Through our ongoing conversations with leaders in the fast food industry, we’ve heard growing concern about who is bringing the consumers their food, and whether they are properly trained to represent the brand, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ShiftPixy co-founder and CEO, Scott Absher. “Ultimately, it’s in the restaurant’s best interest, as well as the customer’s, for uniformed food safety trained employees of the brand itself to facilitate last-mile delivery.”

The coronavirus has affirmed the importance of native delivery, not only for the sake of restaurant operators’ profits, but in order for them to deliver a safe and superior customer experience and keep their staff employed during these difficult times. This reality is what inspired ShiftPixy’s Restaurant Resilience Plan.

ShiftPixy’s turn-key, end-to-end native delivery solution is available now to help restaurant operators repurpose their existing staff for deliveries, as well as establish a white-label online presence, eliminating all necessary reliance on third-party delivery partners. Ultimately, this approach to human capital, customer engagement and delivery will help restaurants retake control of their brand. Read this and more news for ShiftPixy at: https://www.financialnewsmedia.com/news-pixy/.

Other recent developments in the markets this week include:

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) Amazon Studios recently announced that it was providing $1 million for the catering team at the award-winning Jon & Vinny’s restaurant group to prepare meals for local charities feeding those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, including No Kid Hungry, Off Their Plate, the Los Angeles Mission and the Motion Picture & Television Fund. As part of the initiative, Jon & Vinny’s will team with other L.A. restaurants including the Culver City restaurant Hatchet Hall, whose kitchen staffs will also work to prepare and deliver food to be distributed.

“This unprecedented crisis has impacted all of us in immeasurable ways, and it’s more important than ever that we all do our part to give back at every level — and particularly to our own community,” said Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios. “At Amazon Studios and Prime Video, we’re truly honored to be able to show our support to the community that has always supported us, and to team up with Jon and Vinny’s to provide food to those who so desperately need it along with a lifeline to local businesses.”

“We’re super excited to partner with Amazon Studios and Prime Video in their initiative to help small local businesses,” said Jon Shook, Co-Owner of Jon & Vinny’s. “Now with this $1 million contribution, they are continuing to help us during this time as well as give us the opportunity to lend a hand to other independent businesses and restaurants in Los Angeles.”

Blue Apron Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: APRN) recently announced financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2020. “As planned, we have started to deliver on the first stage of our growth strategy with sequential quarter-over-quarter growth in both net revenue and customers, along with continued strength in certain other key customer metrics, which we saw even prior to the impact of COVID-19,” said Linda Findley Kozlowski, Blue Apron Chief Executive Officer. “As we move into the second quarter of 2020, we are focused on driving customer retention and establishing longer-term consumer habits out of the heightened demand we have been seeing as a result of the impact of COVID-19, including stay-at-home and restaurant restriction orders and other changes. Given this, we expect that this uptick in demand can be maintained beyond the period of direct impact of COVID-19, even as restrictions begin to be lifted.

“Our growth strategy is also helping us to address the more recent changes in our business related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since late March, we have seen increased demand from existing, returning and new customers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are proud of our team’s quick actions taken across the business to address this increased demand, particularly after the initial spike in demand where we were unable to fully meet the increased order volume. As more customers invite us into their homes, we believe the appreciation they have for the quality meal experience we deliver is helping to grow our connection to them and we look forward to having them continue to cook with us. I am grateful to all our employees for their commitment and efforts in providing consumers access to our high-quality meal kits made from delicious ingredients during these unprecedented times.”

Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX) recently reported financial results for its 13-week fiscal second quarter ended March 29, 2020. GAAP results in fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2019 include items which are excluded from non-GAAP results. Please refer to the reconciliation of GAAP measures to non-GAAP measures at the end of this release for more information.

“People around the world are united around a common cause as we navigate the COVID-19 situation globally. We are very grateful for the heroic efforts of medical personnel, first responders, government officials and volunteers who are working tirelessly in the service of others. I am exceptionally proud of the thousands of Starbucks partners around the world who are safely serving customers and playing a positive role in every community we serve,” said Kevin Johnson, president and CEO.

Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) recently announced Express Delivery, a new service that delivers more items from the store than ever before to customers’ doors in less than two hours. Walmart has accelerated the development of the service in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, piloting Express Delivery in 100 stores since mid-April. The service will expand to nearly 1,000 stores in early May and will be available in nearly 2,000 total stores in the following weeks. Express Delivery allows customers to order across more than 160,000 items from Walmart’s food, consumables and general merchandise assortment such as groceries, everyday essentials, toys and electronics.

“We know our customers’ lives have changed during this pandemic and so has the way they shop,” said Janey Whiteside, chief customer officer, Walmart. “We also know when we come out of this, customers will be busier than ever, and sometimes that will call for needing supplies in a hurry. COVID-19 has prompted us to launch Express Delivery even faster so that we’re here for our customers today and in the future.”

Walmart’s Express Delivery joins the retailer’s popular pickup and delivery offerings, all three of which are no-contact services for the customer. It relies on the retailer’s team of 74,000 personal shoppers who will pick customers’ orders. This includes additional personal shoppers hired specifically for Express Delivery. Walmart will utilize its existing lineup of delivery providers to take orders from a store to customers’ doors. The service will cost $10 on top of the existing delivery charge. Walmart’s Delivery Unlimited customers’ will simply pay a $10 fee per Express Delivery. Like Walmart’s pickup and delivery services, there is no markup on items – an item is priced the same as it is on the shelf.

DISCLAIMER: FN Media Group LLC (FNM), which owns and operates FinancialNewsMedia.com and MarketNewsUpdates.com, is a third party publisher and news dissemination service provider, which disseminates electronic information through multiple online media channels. FNM is NOT affiliated in any manner with any company mentioned herein. FNM and its affiliated companies are a news dissemination solutions provider and are NOT a registered broker/dealer/analyst/adviser, holds no investment licenses and may NOT sell, offer to sell or offer to buy any security. FNM’s market updates, news alerts and corporate profiles are NOT a solicitation or recommendation to buy, sell or hold securities. The material in this release is intended to be strictly informational and is NEVER to be construed or interpreted as research material. All readers are strongly urged to perform research and due diligence on their own and consult a licensed financial professional before considering any level of investing in stocks. All material included herein is republished content and details which were previously disseminated by the companies mentioned in this release. FNM is not liable for any investment decisions by its readers or subscribers. Investors are cautioned that they may lose all or a portion of their investment when investing in stocks. For current services performed FNM has been compensated forty six hundred dollars for news coverage of the press release issued by ShiftPixy, Inc. by the Company. FNM HOLDS NO SHARES OF ANY COMPANY NAMED IN THIS RELEASE.

This release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended and such forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. “Forward-looking statements” describe future expectations, plans, results, or strategies and are generally preceded by words such as “may”, “future”, “plan” or “planned”, “will” or “should”, “expected,” “anticipates”, “draft”, “eventually” or “projected”. You are cautioned that such statements are subject to a multitude of risks and uncertainties that could cause future circumstances, events, or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements, including the risks that actual results may differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, and other risks identified in a company’s annual report on Form 10-K or 10-KSB and other filings made by such company with the Securities and Exchange Commission. You should consider these factors in evaluating the forward-looking statements included herein, and not place undue reliance on such statements. The forward-looking statements in this release are made as of the date hereof and FNM undertakes no obligation to update such statements.

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These gig-economy jobs can earn you extra cash during the coronavirus pandemic — without having to leave your home

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Layoffs are mounting as more Americans practice social distancing to contain the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus: some 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week — the highest ever increase in weekly jobless claims.

The dire economic outlook could be leading some to consider “gig” jobs, or temporary jobs, to help them get by until they land a permanent full-time role. Many people turned to the gig economy to pay the bills in 2008, when layoffs were far and wide.

But unlike 2008, laid-off workers need to take into account whether or not the extra money from certain gigs is worth potentially compromising their health. Many gig jobs — like driving for a ride-hailing app — involve close interaction with other people. But earning extra money doesn’t necessarily have to mean putting yourself at risk of contracting the coronavirus.

People turn to gig work when they need money — but the pay isn’t always great

Data suggests that people turn to gig work when they’re in a financial crunch: income typically drops by as much as 10% in the 10 weeks leading up to a when a person takes a gig job, according to an October 2019 report published by the JPMorgan Chase Institute
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But pay in the gig economy can be paltry. One of the most well-known gig jobs, driving for Uber
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typically pays just $9.21 an hour after fees and other expenses, according to a 2018 report by Lawrence Mishel, a distinguished fellow at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning nonprofit think tank based in Washington, D.C. Drivers still “typically make less than minimum wage in the large cities,” Mishel told MarketWatch this week.

An Uber spokeswoman refuted the report’s findings, saying it “makes several questionable claims and assumptions while altogether ignoring the flexibility drivers tell us they value and cannot find in traditional jobs.”

These days, rideshare drivers are shifting to becoming food delivery drivers on platforms like Uber Eats, Grubhub
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and Instacart. These drivers are allowed to travel freely through regions that have shelter-in-place orders because their services are deemed essential. Uber has been sending alert messages to its drivers encouraging them transition to being food couriers, a spokeswoman said. Last week 15% of drivers who received the message — and had never delivered an Uber Eats order — made their first delivery,” an Uber spokeswoman said.

As people are stuck at home and stocking up on groceries instead of going out to eat, Instacart is looking bring on more than 300,000 new personal shoppers over the next three months. Earlier this week Instacart workers went on strike to demand better safeguards against the coronavirus, including hazard pay.

Read: ‘Anybody who works at this point deserves hazard pay’: The working conditions that led one Instacart worker to strike

Instacart said in a statement that “the health and safety of our entire community — shoppers, customers, and employees — is our first priority.” The company noted it had 40% more shoppers on the platform Monday than at the same time a week before. Within the last week, 250,000 new people have signed up to become Instacart shoppers, and 50,000 have already started work, according to the company.

Many of these apps offer contactless delivery to help cut down on drivers’ chances of spreading or catching the coronavirus. But there are also some gig jobs that can be performed remotely.

Here are some examples:

Online tutoring and coaching

With schools shifting to distance learning, parents who work full-time jobs are tapping into virtual tutors. One platform, Varsity Tutors, a both online and in-person tutoring platform, launched Virtual School Day two weeks ago.

Virtual School Day is a program that provides daily lessons to K-12 students free of charge. Teachers and people with a background in education are paid as much as $40 an hour for teaching Virtual School Day classes. The service has a “higher bar” for Virtual School Day teachers, said Brian Galvin, chief academic officer for Varsity Tutors.

“They have to propose a range of lesson plans and how to make it interactive for 100+ students,” he said. Teachers have been jumping on the opportunity to teach some of their favorite lessons to students across the country with different backgrounds than their own students, he said.

“Classroom teachers have been saying ‘I have these awesome lessons I didn’t get to cover this year can I bring them to Virtual School Day?’” Galvin was pleasantly surprised both by how many children attend virtual school classes and by how many people with education backgrounds have become Virtual School Day teachers.

Varsity Tutors, a tutoring service that does online and in-person sessions, launched Virtual School Day two weeks ago. The program provides daily lessons to K-12 students free of charge


Varsity Tutors

“It was really heartwarming when a parent asked a first-grade Spanish teacher if she could do another virtual high-five since her child missed it,” he said. One benefit of online learning: Students who might otherwise refrain from participating in class are finding it a lot less nerve-racking, he said.

In addition to Virtual School Day, parents have also been paying for one-on-one online tutoring sessions. The hourly pay tutors earn varies based on subject and expertise but, typically, most make between $15 and $40 an hour, Galvin said.

But academic tutoring isn’t the only type of tutoring that is in demand.

Video game coaching

As more Americans are hunkering down at home, especially in states where shelter-in-place orders are in effect, video games are gaining popularity.

In fact Nintendo Switches
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a popular game console, have gone out of stock on sites including Amazon
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Target
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and Walmart
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(Nintendo Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for comment).

The unprecedented demand from both novice players and experienced gamers has benefitted Rio Spersch’s game coaching side-hustle. Spersch, a 27-year-old based in Vancouver, started offering virtual video game coaching services two years ago on Fiverr
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an online market for freelancers.

“After playing Overwatch” — a team-based game in which players band together to defend a fictionalized Earth — “I got pretty decent and I made it to the top 500 ranking,” Spersch, who goes by the name Riverr Blue on gaming platforms, said. He used to offer his teammates tips on how to improve their fighting skills and eventually someone encouraged him to consider charging money for his coaching.

Typically he coaches Fortnite
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and Overwatch players for 15 to 20 hours a week. But since his full-time job as an after-school animation instructor for elementary and middle-school students is in limbo after classes were cancelled, he’s been coaching games almost 40 hours a week, earning between $15 to $35 an hour.

“I keep getting dads or couples — and don’t get me wrong, it’s the most heartwarming thing to see them play — but I really prefer to work with kids ages seven to 13,” he said.

He said he would like to expand his business to teach animation classes geared for children over Zoom
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E-commerce

In the last week of December, there were 2,794 job openings within the U.S. for e-commerce jobs on ZipRecruiter, a job posting site. Two weeks ago there were nearly six times as many openings in the sector.

“Many stores, especially old-fashioned traditional ones, are really struggling to get any business right now,” Julia Pollak, an economist at ZipRecruiter, said. To open an online shop or list items on sites like Amazon, eBay
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and Etsy
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many small business owners are looking to hire temporary help.

For instance, a liquor store based in San Diego posted a temporary remote job for someone who is proficient in Photoshop
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to help edit photos of its products to sell online. That job pays $14 an hour.

Pollak said she doesn’t expect these jobs to “last very long,” given that traditional stores are likely to shift back to brick-and-mortar operations once shelter-in-place orders are lifted. In the meantime, these jobs are providing some furloughed and laid-off workers with “a safety net” of income that may “help them get out of this rut sooner.”

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