Amazon announced that it delivered to Prime subscribers at its “fastest speed ever” in its quarterly earnings on Tuesday. The company reported that it delivered more than 2 billion items in a one-day window in the first three months of 2024. If it were to keep that pace, it would top 2023’s numbers, which Amazon previously said totaled 7 billion units delivered on the same day or the next day during the yearlong period. In March, the company said nearly 60 percent of the items ordered by Prime members in the top 60 US metro areas arrived the same day or the next. Major cities outside of the US, like London, Tokyo, and Toronto, saw three out of four of their items delivered in the same window. Amazon is also kicking it up a notch in the grocery war being waged by retail titans. Prime members are now being offered free delivery on grocery orders over $35 from stores like Whole Foods, Amazon Fresh, and more.

Produce goes bad and clothes go out of fashion fast, issues that add to the massive food and retail waste the world’s major retailers are on the hook to solve. Walmart thinks AI is part of the answer. The big-box giant is launching an in-store artificial intelligence to advise employees on everything from banana ripening to seasonal fashion that may need to be put on sale before it’s too late. The internally developed AI technology allows Walmart employees to scan produce like bananas to see how ripe the product is. Then, using generative AI, a digital dashboard will make a suggestion on what to do with the product, eliminating the need for human decision making in the absence of informed advice.

A step toward a zero-emissions freight sector includes adoption of zero-emissions vehicles. The initiative is allocating nearly $1.5 billion to increase use of these vehicles to transport freight as part of an overall effort to improve air quality. The largest piece of the president’s plan provides $1 billion through the Environmental Protection Agency to cities, states and tribes to replace Class 6 and Class 7 heavy duty vehicles including delivery trucks. The EPA funding also is meant to support development of charging and fueling infrastructure for zero-emissions vehicles. About $400 million of the $1 billion in EPA funds are earmarked for projects to aid communities with air and noise pollution mitigation. The Department of Transportation will provide $400 million to improve air quality and reduce pollution for truck drivers, port workers and people who live in communities surrounding ports.

Resurgent air cargo demand and rising rates, powered by the quasi-blockade of Red Sea shipping and continued growth in bookings by Chinese e-commerce platforms, during a normally slow shipping period is creating high expectations among air carriers for peak season and making logistics providers nervous about securing adequate capacity. Air cargo demand has grown by double digits for four consecutive months, while rates have risen steadily since late February. The strength of the market rebound after a prolonged downturn that bottomed out last August has surprised industry watchers. But the recovery is not lifting all regions equally and can be partly attributed to a weak 2023 that makes the comparison look better. Primary factors driving growth in air cargo are poor ocean shipping reliability and Chinese e-commerce players like fast fashion dynamo Shein, and online markets Temu and Alibaba sucking up outbound capacity from China.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, Song 2 by Blur.

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