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Domino's expands delivery options, home buying moves online

The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Monday related to the national and global response, the work place and the spread of the virus.

FOOD SERVICE

— Domino's Pizza is now offering carside delivery service, allowing customers to stay in their cars while one of the pizza company's workers delivers their order to them.

The chain said Monday that customers can choose the new contactless carryout option when placing a prepaid order online. It is available in U.S. stores.

When a customer places a carside delivery order online, they'll be prompted to add their vehicle color, make and model, which will be used to identify them when they arrive at the store. Customers can also choose where they’d like their order placed — the passenger side, back seat, trunk or the option to decide when they arrive.

— The parent company of Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons says sales are improving even though most North American restaurants are only offering takeout and delivery. Restaurant Brands International said Popeyes’ same-store sales — or sales at locations open at least a year — were in the high 20% range in mid-June thanks to its popular chicken sandwich. Burger King’s U.S. sales, which were down more than 30% in March, are now flat compared to last year. Tim Hortons sales are still down more than 15%; about 10% of the brand’s restaurants in Canada remain closed.

— U.S. restaurants saw fewer customers in mid-June as coronavirus cases surged in multiple states. Customer transactions at chain restaurants fell 13% from the previous year in the week ending June 21, according to The NPD Group, a data and consulting firm. That was softer than the 12% decline the week before.

It was the first time in two months that transactions didn’t improve week-over-week. Restaurant transactions fell in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and Nevada, all of which reported spikes in coronavirus cases. “The U.S. restaurant industry’s road to recovery is going to have some bumps along the way,” said NPD food industry analyst David Portalatin.

SUPPORTING MOMS AND POPS: American Express said it will set aside up to $200 million to help spur spending at small businesses.

The program will consist mostly of a cash-back program for cardmembers. For every $10 an AmEx cardholder spends at a small business, they will get $5 back, up to $50. Like other credit card companies, AmEx codes each of its merchants in its system by size and industry, so the cashback will only work at small businesses.

AmEx is also setting aside $10 million that will go directly to Black-owned small businesses in the form of grants to help address the “challenges they face due to racial and social inequalities.”

BONUS ROUNDUP:

— Amazon is paying out $500 million in bonuses to its front-line workers. The company stopped paying a $2 an hour bonus at the end of May.

Amazon said full-time warehouse and Whole Foods workers who were employed by the company in June will get $500, while part-time workers will get $250. Managers will get $1,000. Those who started a package delivery business with Amazon will get $3,000 and their drivers will get the same bonuses as the warehouse workers. Those who delivered packages for at least 10 hours using Amazon’s Flex service will get $150.

— Home improvement chain Lowe’s is handing out another round of bonuses to its workers. The Mooresville, North Carolina-based company said Monday that full-time hourly workers will receive $300, and part-time and seasonal workers will receive $150 in July— matching the funds provided to all hourly workers in both March and May. The new bonuses amount to $100 million in investment to its workers.

TRAVEL:

— Several U.S. airlines say they are already asking or will be asking passengers about their health during check-in before flights. American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest and United said they will ask passengers if they have symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, coughing or difficulty breathing. The airlines will also ask if passengers have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus in the previous 14 days.

— Travelers at Frankfurt airport, Germany’s biggest and a major intercontinental hub, will be able to get an on-site coronavirus test before jetting off.

Airport operators, German carrier Lufthansa and medical research company Centogene are opening a walk-in testing center near the main terminal Monday.

CENTRAL GOVERNMENTS & BANKS:

— Germany’s parliament has signed off on a government plan to lower sales tax and provide more money for families that it is hoped will stimulate spending and help the economy as coronavirus restrictions are eased.

The lower house of parliament on Monday approved the plan to lower the country’s value added tax from 19% to 16% for a half a year, starting July 1. A reduced tax for food and other necessities will be lowered from 7% to 5% under the plan.

MARKETS: Stocks rose on Wall Street Monday, clawing back some of the ground they lost last week.

HOUSE HUNT: Home buyers dealing with serious health concerns or other issues can now use a new secure platform to bypass the traditional home selling process during the pandemic.

HomeQuickie.com announced Monday a system that automates the entire home selling process, providing access to the selling, marketing and closing tools that industry professionals use. The program offers full self-service options for a flat $1,495 fee or expert support for a 2% commission on the final sales price.

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