EYECARE: Coronavirus BRIEFING: Crisis Response Tactics The Omicron Surge Compounds Retail Sector’s Worker Shortage By Staff Wednesday, January 19, 2022 4:02 PM Retailers across the U.S. are being forced to adjust their brick-and-mortar strategies as the spread of the omicron variant exacerbates the pressure on already stretched staff, according to a recent feature from eMarketer. Walmart, Starbucks, Macy’s, and Apple are just a few of the retailers that have either reduced store hours or temporarily closed locations in response to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. Pandemic-induced burnout has hit many industries hard, as the number of people quitting reaches record highs. This, coupled with omicron’s highly contagious nature, has wreaked havoc on retailers’ ability to maintain business as usual. A record 4.5 million people quit their jobs in November 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of that number, 686,000 left retail jobs, leaving the industry with a 4.4 percent quit rate (the number of people quitting as a proportion of total employment). Meanwhile, the overall quit rate hit 3 percent matching the high previously seen in September 2021.In addition to facing increased risk of COVID-19 exposure, retail workers are also reporting low morale due to severe staffing crunches, lack of hazard pay, and rising numbers of in-store shoppers. As a result, retailers are overhauling their in-store experience on the fly by adjusting hours and adding more self-service options. For example, ShopRite recently rolled out an automated pickup pod that provides consumers in New Rochelle, N.Y., with a contactless way to retrieve their online grocery orders. That type of technology can reduce the retailer’s reliance on store employees and may drive an increase in online shopping.