15 minutes ago

Peloton Rides a Coronavirus Surge in Home Workouts

Peloton Interactive’s quarterly sales jumped 66%, bolstered by shut-in Americans undeterred by shipping delays, do-it-yourself installation and the exercise bike’s $2,000-plus price tag. Peloton is known for selling exercise bikes equipped with a screen that shows subscription workout classes. Subscribers almost doubled to 886,100 in the quarter ended March 31, including the first weeks when the spread of coronavirus closed gyms and prompted many Americans to shelter at home. Peleton workouts reached 44 million in the quarter, a record for the company and up from 24 million in the December quarter.

“I never thought I would ever purchase a Peloton,” says , 44, of Mt. Kisko, N.Y. A gym loyalist, she ordered a Peloton this week that is set to be delivered in late June. “But I found myself here at home and I wasn’t doing anything, like, nothing. I realized I had a bit of a problem.”

Peleton’s sales surge points to a broader trend during the pandemic: an accelerated shift away from physical gyms and toward at-home virtual fitness programs. “I’m never going to sign up for a full brick-and-mortar gym with a monthly charge anymore,” says 31-year-old Jonathan Seryak, who recently he set up in his apartment some weights that he has had since high school. With new technology, internet-connected equipment and apps, people like Mr. Seryak say they are enjoying the attention, energy and community of in-person classes—shoutouts and competition included—without leaving the house.

That trend is spurring gyms and fitness studios to experiment with more (and often inexpensive or free) digital offerings. Yet, it could be difficult to run digital services alongside brick-and-mortar facilities when they reopen, some analysts warn. “What was meant to be a generous gesture for at-home clientele will end up being destructive for the fitness industry,” says Jennifer Maanavi, chief executive of Physique 57.

38 minutes ago

Carnival Cancels Some Sailings for the Rest of the Year

Carnival’s Princess Cruises and said they are canceling some cruises for the rest of the summer and others through the end of the year, missing a usually lucrative holiday season as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to batter tourism and travel.

Princess said it is canceling cruises for the summer to fall departing from Japan on the Diamond Princess, which in February became an outbreak site, yielding one of the first confirmed Covid-19 cases in the U.S. Holland America Line canceled all Alaska, Europe, Canada and New England cruises for the rest of the year, as well as a voyage from Boston to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that had been scheduled to depart Oct. 3.

For the summer season, Princess canceled all remaining Alaska cruises on the Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess; Europe and Transatlantic cruises on the Enchanted Princess, Regal Princess, Sky Princess, Crown Princess and Island Princess; and Caribbean as well as Canada and New England cruises on the Caribbean Princess and Sky Princess.

Princess also canceled fall cruises sailing to Hawaii and French Polynesia on the Pacific Princess through November and July cruises sailing from on the Majestic Princess.

52 minutes ago

Grubhub’s Sales Improve as Customers Choose Delivery

Grubhub said delivery sales have rebounded after a drop at the start of the coronavirus pandemic when customers stocked up on groceries rather than restaurant food.

The delivery company said on Wednesday that sales in most of the first quarter grew robustly. Orders plunged in late March as consumers sheltered at home and stocked up at grocery stores instead of ordering restaurant food, Grubhub said.

Sales in the first quarter totaled $363 million, up 12% from a year earlier and beating analyst expectations. Active diners during the quarter ending March 31 surged 24% from last year’s period to 24 million. But the Chicago-based company reported a diluted loss per share of 36 cents from total losses of $33.4 million, falling below expectations.

“It has obviously been a challenging two months for all of us,” the company said in a letter to shareholders Wednesday.

1 hour ago

USDA Secretary Sees Meat Plants Reopening in 10 Days

U.S. meatpacking plants closed due to coronavirus outbreaks among workers will reopen within a week to ten days, according to the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We’ve turned the corner,” said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue in a briefing Wednesday with Trump and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

Mr. Perdue is pushing U.S. meatpackers to resume operations as some grocery stores struggle to keep ground beef and other meat products in stock, while slaughter-ready livestock back up on farms and ranches, forcing some farmers to euthanize animals. Mr. Trump last week issued an executive order handing the USDA more authority over when meatpacking plants have to close due to Covid-19 outbreaks.

While major meatpackers like Tyson Foods Inc. in recent days have outlined plans to reopen closed plants, some workers remain wary of returning to processing lines. Mr. Perdue said that due to infected employees, some plants won’t operate at full capacity for some time.

Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Perdue told meat industry executives in a letter that any meat plants that close without a timeline to reopen should submit to the USDA their health and , and warned that the agency could take further action under Mr. Trump’s executive order. USDA representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment.

1 hour ago

Coronavirus Leaves Students, Colleges Playing Waiting Game

The coronavirus pandemic has created a dramatic shift in who has leverage in college admissions.

Incoming freshmen at Fordham University, for example, were told they had to decide by May 1 whether to accept the admission offers and send in their deposits. By May 2, however, with deposits tracking about 10% behind those the prior year, the New York school notified admitted students who hadn’t yet committed that they could take until June 1 to decide.

Students are getting off the wait lists at “reach” schools, and those admitted outright are able to wait far longer before making decisions. The University of California, Los Angeles; , the University of Chicago and multiple Ivy League schools all began to tap their wait lists before May 1 to round out first-year classes.

More than 700 institutions still have open space, according to a survey by the for College Admission Counseling, up from between 400 and 450 in recent years. They can’t afford not to revisit deadlines, dig into their wait lists or reopen admissions to appeal to new prospects.

“That power dynamic between university and student is much more skewed now,” says Casey Near, of counseling at Collegewise, an independent college admissions consulting company. Students “are a commodity that colleges need.”