Grocers explore options as Omicron surge sees staff absences double

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Grocers are extending temporary staff contracts and prioritising food and online deliveries over other areas of their business as the Omicron coronavirus surge doubles staff absences.

Supermarkets including Asda, Co-op, Waitrose and Tesco are all currently experiencing staff absences running at around 5% or 6%, double the staff absences usual for this time of the year. 

One source at a grocer said that while the absences were higher than expected for this time of the year, the situation was manageable from an operations standpoint and nowhere near as bad as during the summer’s “pingdemic”. 

In a bid to ease problems with staff absences, Retail Week understands that grocers are keeping on temporary staff bought in over Christmas and are prioritising staffing their food arms and fulfilling online deliveries over general merchandise and other categories.

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