Three quarters of retailers are currently impacted by worker isolations, according to a survey by the Australian Retailers’ Association, and half rank ‘staff shortages’ as the biggest issue they are facing currently ahead of supply chain issues.
“We’ve entered an unprecedented staffing challenge as more people are infected with Covid than at any stage before in the pandemic,” said ARA boss Paul Zahra.
“This builds on an existing skills crisis within the retail and hospitality sectors. Many retailers are having to limit trading hours or close stores altogether because they don’t have the staff available.”
Zahra welcomed the NSW and Queensland governments’ updated isolation requirements for essential workers who are close contacts, but said more needed to be done to ease the pressure across the industry.
Specifically, the ARA repeated its calls to the government to give free, priority access to Rapid Antigen Tests for frontline retail and distribution centre workers, end requirements for reporting of the results of these tests to multiple agencies before staff can return to work, and to immediately create a reporting mechanism for workers to submit such test results to.
Supply chain issues are expected to linger across the remainder of 2022, according to Zahra, though the current levels of congestion are likely to pass once Australia passes the peak of Omicron.