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Amazon freezes corporate hiring in its retail business

The Amazon headquarters sits virtually empty on March 10, 2020 in downtown Seattle, Washington. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Amazon recommended all employees in its Seattle office to work from home, leaving much of downtown nearly void of people.

John Moore | Getty Images

Amazon is pausing hiring for corporate roles in its retail business, according to a report published Tuesday by The New York Times.

The company confirmed the accuracy of the report to CNBC.

Amazon instructed recruiters to close all open job postings for those roles in the coming days, and recommended they cancel some recruiting activities, such as phone calls to screen new candidates, the Times reported, citing internal communications.

Amazon spokesperson Brad Glasser said the retail giant continues to have a significant number of open roles across the company.

“We have many different businesses at various stages of evolution, and we expect to keep adjusting our hiring strategies in each of these businesses at various junctures,” Glasser said in a statement.

Amazon is the latest company to reevaluate its hiring plans amid concerns of an economic downturn. Several companies including Google, Apple and Meta have announced they will slow or temporarily pause hiring altogether. Companies are also looking for ways to cut costs to gird for potential headwinds.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy has worked swiftly to rein in costs as the company grapples with slowing growth in its core retail business, which still accounts for the lion’s share of Amazon’s revenue.

The retail business enjoyed breakneck growth during the Covid-19 pandemic as consumers avoided trips to physical stores and flocked to online retailers. By early 2022, e-commerce spending began to decelerate, and Amazon in the first quarter reported its slowest rate of revenue growth since the dot-com bust in 2001.

Jassy has assured investors he’s focused on returning to a “healthy level of profitability” after slowing retail sales and rising costs ate into Amazon’s earnings. In recent months, Amazon has closed or cancelled the launch of new facilities, and it’s delaying the opening of some new buildings after its pandemic-driven expansion left it with too much warehouse space.

It has also closed nearly all of its U.S. call centers in a bid to save on real estate, Bloomberg reported.

The company is also contending with too many workers after it went on a pandemic hiring spree. In the second quarter, Amazon shaved its headcount by 99,000 people to 1.52 million employees.

WATCH: Watch CNBC’s full interview with Amazon CEO Andy Jassy on first annual letter to shareholders

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