As retailers struggle to bring consumers back into their physical retail locations, hiring challenges may be added to the litany of impediments—Omicron, ecommerce, supply chain issues—contributing to lower footfall numbers than we saw pre-pandemic.
While it was heartening to read that the majority of retailers remained closed on Thanksgiving Day again this year so that their associates could spend time with their families, how did retail workers feel about it? Does this one day off improve sales associates’ morale when faced with the impending crush of the rest of the holiday season? In previous holiday seasons, major retailers hired tens of thousands of temporary sales associates to help offset the frenzy of the season. Today, that scenario is something from a bygone era, with the Great Resignation firmly affecting the retail industry. According to CNBC, retail suffered the second highest number of quits in August—over 720,000—beaten only by the food service and accommodation industry.
The reasons cited by ex-retail employees for quitting are myriad and include long hours, random schedules, inability to take time off, low pay, and difficult customers. The axiom that the customer is always right combined with retail cultures demanding that associates go above and beyond to close the sale have not aged well in today’s world. How will retail management respond to this crisis? They will need to take action—immediately. Bloomberg reports that “the staffing issues are having an impact on [retailer’s] finances. More than two-thirds are struggling to meet sales targets due to labor problems.”