Omicron surge exacerbates labor shortage in retail sector


The news: Retailers across the United States are being forced to adjust their brick-and-mortar strategies as the spread of the omicron variant increases pressure on already overstretched staff.

  • walmart, Starbucks, Macy’sand Apple are just a few of the retailers that have either reduced store hours or temporarily closed locations in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases, per Insider.

How we got here: The burnout caused by the pandemic has hit many industries hard, as the number of people quitting hits record highs. This, coupled with the highly contagious nature of omicron, has taken its toll on retailers’ ability to maintain the status quo.

  • A record 4.5 million people quit their jobs in November 2021, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of this number, 686,000 left retail jobsleaving the industry with a 4.4% resignation rate (the number of quits as a proportion of total employment). Meanwhile, the overall quit rate reached 3.0%, matching the peak previously recorded in September 2021.
  • In addition to facing an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19, retail workers are also reporting low morale due to severe staff shortages, lack of hazard premium and growing number of shoppers. at the store.

The implications: Retailers are overhauling their in-store experience on the fly by adjusting hours and adding more self-service options. For example, BoutiqueRite earlier this week rolled out an automated pickup module that offers consumers in New Rochelle, NY, a contactless way to pick up their grocery orders online. This type of technology can reduce the retailer’s reliance on store employees and can lead to increased online shopping.

  • Even before the omicron wave, 68% of consumers said the pandemic had changed their shopping habits, according to a survey by Anyline.

Next to a 32.4% jump in e-commerce sales in 2020, online sales still increased by 16.1% last year. We anticipate that with fewer opening hours, shoppers will likely continue to move more of their spending online with online sales are expected to increase by 15.9% This year.


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