A survey by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) shows that staff shortages are the most pressing challenge facing retailers, with over three quarters of businesses saying they have staff in isolation due to Covid-19.
As per the survey, which includes the findings of an online poll of ARA members representing thousands of businesses nationally, both large and small, 76% of retail businesses say they currently have staff in isolation and 50% of retail businesses ranked ‘staff shortages’ as the number one challenge at the moment with ‘lack of customers’ and ‘supply chain/delivery issues’ the next most pressing challenges.
A third of retail businesses (33%) say they have limited trading hours in some locations and one in five retail businesses (20%) say they have closed some locations due to staff shortages.
As per ARA CEO Paul Zahra, “It’s an ongoing juggling act for retailers and their rostering managing the current isolation requirements.”
“We have entered an unprecedented staffing challenge as more people are infected with Covid than at any stage before in the pandemic. This builds on an existing skills crisis within the retail and hospitality sectors,” Zahra said.
“Many retailers are having to limit trading hours or close stores altogether because they don’t have the staff available. For small businesses, a couple of cases can wipe out their entire workforce,” he added.
Zahra welcomed the move to ease isolation requirements on essential workers who are close contacts. However, he said more needs to be done to ease the pressure on this critical workforce so they can adequately staff their stores and move essential goods efficiently across the country.
He reiterated calls to all levels of government to conitue to work with industry to clear any impediments to getting people safely back to work and return domestic supply chains to a more sustainable footing.
“Whilst we expect supply chain challenges to linger for the rest of the year due to global pressures, we do expect this short-term congestion to ease in the coming weeks as Omicron cases hopefully peak and decline as predicted by the health authorities. Retailers are working intensely to solve these challenges for their customers as they have throughout the pandemic. We ask that customers remain patient and respectful towards their teams during this intense period,” he added.