Retail workers key to a successful Christmas and beyond

Kaitlin Hastie
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With Christmas just over 2 weeks away, Australian shoppers are showing no signs of slowing down as retail spending continues to rise.

We have already seen record spending over Black Friday and Cyber Monday and all indications are that this exciting trend will continue into Christmas and beyond. It has also been interesting to see the resurgence of bricks and mortar retail, with shoppers clearly missing the in-store experience and the ability to 'touch and feel' products before buying.

While this is all great news for retailers, worker shortages will be one of the biggest issues faced by the majority of retailers during Christmas and into 2022.

Across the last year workers were forced to leave the sector as hours and job security declined, especially in Victoria and NSW with ongoing extended lockdowns. Additionally we know that the phenomenon of the 'great resignation' is here. The once ideal retail worker candidate (be that casual or full time) are now considering opportunities for work that provide greater stability and easier working environments.

The timing of opening up and peak retail trade, has created a perfect storm. Most retailers are juggling on-boarding, training new team members and adhering to COVID regulations, all whilst trying to provide optimal customer experiences to make up for lost revenue.

However not all retailers are facing staff shortages. Companies that chose to use the lockdown to invest in their people through upskilling and learning and development programs, has meant that they have been able to hit the ground running once lockdown eased. This has also meant that they haven’t faced the challenges of mass Christmas recruitment and on-boarding of new staff at peak trading period. While an upfront investment, it will pay off in the long run with improved employee engagement, lower turnover, highly skilled workforce – all resulting in better customer experience.

So, what's the solution?

The pandemic has created the opportunity for companies to reset their focus on workforce planning and staff engagement strategies. Instead of resigning ourselves to staff resignations, the focus should be on the 'great retention'.

While most retailers are focused on getting through the Christmas period, we need to start to turn our attention to 2022.

While it might look and feel a little different, retail is back!

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