Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus has said it’s unfair people his age are forcing the country to shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic because ‘people over 70 are a only small fraction of the population’.
Marcus, 91, blamed his own age bracket as ‘the problem’ that pushed the US into lockdown to slow the spread of the virus, in an interview with Fox News Monday.
The founder and former CEO of the world’s biggest home improvement chain also blasted the media for ‘frightening America’ with the pandemic that has so far killed more than 90,000 Americans and heaped praise on the Republican governors of Florida and Georgia for reopening their states.
Marcus’s comments came as Home Depot released its first quarter earnings Tuesday, giving a somewhat mixed picture as sales surged but the pandemic dragged on profits and share price dipped.
Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus has said it’s unfair people his age are forcing the country to shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic because ‘people over 70 are a only small fraction of the population’
‘My age bracket is really the problem. If we take care of my age bracket, that is 70 or above, I think that we can end a lot of the problems that are out there,’ Marcus said Monday.
‘People that are 70 or above have to be so careful because you are compromised in many different ways. But we’re only a small portion of the population and we’re closing down everybody, in addition to the school kids – it doesn’t makes sense.’
Marcus praised Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp for ending their stay-at-home orders so that businesses can reopen across the states, while he slammed what he called ‘bureaucrats’ in the ‘blue states’ where lockdowns have been extended.
‘What they did is a perfect example of thinking and understanding that people needed to get out the house, needed to start their businesses again, needed to go to work again,’ he said of DeSantis and Kemp.
‘But there are bureaucrats all over the country in the blue states that are still closed and god knows when they’ll open. Those people up there, they are still struggling and it is desperation time for many of them.’
Marcus, a vocal Donald Trump supporter and member of the White House reopening task force, stopped short of singling out any particular states that have maintained their stay-at-home orders but launched into a rambling attack on ‘plutocrats, bureaucrats and government employees’ for making these decisions.
The founder and former CEO of the world’s biggest home improvement chain also blasted the media for ‘frightening America’ with the pandemic and heaped praise on the Republican governors of Florida and Georgia for reopening their states as he spoke to Fox News Monday
‘Remember that a lot of these rules are made by plutocrats, bureaucrats and government employees – people who get paid no matter what happens out there. But the poor guy out there who works for a living who gets paid hourly he’s going to struggle and the money doesn’t come in,’ he argued.
‘If a governor decides he wants to close the state, well he still gets paid, his family still eat but the people who work for him I’m sorry to tell you don’t have the same situation, it’s really sad.’
He also singled out the media saying it ‘has done a wonderful job in frightening America’ over the outbreak.
Marcus went on to call for changes to be made to the current federal government aid for businesses across the US, pointing out flaws in the Paycheck Protection Program designed to help small businesses keep paying their workers and bills.
The PPP was created by Congress and designed to loan money to small businesses with 500 employees or less to help them survive the economic downturn during the coronavirus crisis, ensuring they can still pay their employees and bills, and avoid mass layoffs.
Companies that use the money to avoid layoffs will not have to pay the money back as long as 75 percent of the funds are used to pay staff.
Almost all 50 states have begun to ease coronavirus restrictions
Marcus said the scheme poses challenges to small businesses with less than 100 workers.
‘People are not being helped too much by the PPP as what happened is: number one was delays and number two employees didn’t come back and 75 percent of the money that came out of this programme is for employees and only 25 percent is to pay the rent,’ he said.
‘If you’re a restaurant and you’re running at 25 percent capacity you’re paying full rent you’re paying your utilities, insurance, air con, everything else and nobody is coming and employees are not there. You don’t need 100 percent of your employees so what we’re trying to do is change the programme.’
The former Home Depot boss suggested making the scheme longer so businesses receive financial support for around five years and for more than 25 percent to be able to be used toward other businesses expenses.
‘They’re not going to survive and if they don’t survive the economy of this country is not going to survive either,’ he warned.
Home Depot became one of the first retailers to show what has happened to business as the virus grips the US, as it revealed its first quarter earnings Tuesday.
Sales rose 7.3 percent in the quarter, as homeowners rushed to pick up essential supplies.
Revenue increased to $28.26 billion, from $26.38 billion, beating Wall Street’s estimate of $27.61 billion.
Sales at stores open at least a year also rose 7.5 percent in the US.
But net income fell 10.7 percent to $2.25 billion, or $2.08 per share, compared with $2.51 billion, or $2.27 per share, in 2019 and shares dropped 2.6 percent before the opening bell Tuesday.
Industry analysts had expected $2.26 per share, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.
This came about as the world’s biggest home improvement chain has also been hit by pandemic-related costs, as it upped compensation for employees, extended dependent care benefits and waived related co-pays.
This all set Home Depot back by $850 million in pre-tax expenses, or about 60 cents per share.
The DIY store too announced it has pulled its financial guidance for the year as the pandemic continues to make the situation unpredictable.
Home Depot became one of the first retailers to show what has happened to business as the virus grips the US, as it revealed its first quarter earnings Tuesday
Marcus’s calls an end to lockdown comes as almost all 50 states have begun to ease coronavirus restrictions and allow some businesses to reopen.
Several states including Washington and California relaxed more measures Monday with casinos starting to reopen to big crowds.
However fears continue to mount that states are reopening too soon and this may trigger a spike in new cases and deaths.
Data compiled by Covid Act Now and built in partnership with Georgetown University Medical Center and Stanford Medicine has revealed that a staggering 17 states are more at risk of reopening and potentially seeing a surge in new COVID-19 infections.
Data tracking the threat of reopening across the country based on infection growth rates, testing and ICU bed capacity shows that states in the Northeast and Midwest are most at risk.
States along the West Coast and much of the South are at a moderate risk of reopening and increasing the outbreak, while only five states, including Montana, Alaska, Hawaii, West Virginia and Vermont, are at a reduced risk of reopening.