Focus on retail: Shoppers are back but inflation fears lurk


With Covid lockdowns now hopefully a thing of the past, all retailers have opened their doors wide to shoppers. However, the post-pandemic retail landscape has been hit by some unexpected challenges, including labor shortages.

Last month, Excel Recruitment, a leading retail recruitment specialist, warned that retail could be the next industry to face a serious and damaging workforce crisis, similar to the hospitality labor shortage.

Aislinn Lea, Director of Fashion and Non-Food at Excel Recruitment, said: “The number of employers with active retail job vacancies has nearly tripled to 1,360 employers in the 12 months to February 2022 – up from 488 employers in February 2021”.

Ms Lea said thousands of workers have decided during the lockdown to change careers or seek further training in their current industry.

Add to that the fact that the industry has been missing out on new recruits for about two years.

Several retailers made it into the Ireland Best Employers 2022 survey, suggesting companies in the sector are working hard to compete for labor and retain employees.

Shoppers have responded well to reopenings, although some parts of retail are doing better than others.

In terms of discretionary spending, the past year ended on a strong note. According to the Retail Productivity Review by lobby group Retail Excellence and Grant Thornton, retail sales grew 12.3 percent in the last three months of 2021 compared to the final quarter of last year.

However, there are fears that inflation and the likelihood of rate hikes from July will weigh on consumer spending. Hopes that savings from the pandemic would translate into sustainable spending are gone as an uncertain future looms over potential buyers.

Meanwhile, sales in Ireland’s grocery market grew by nearly €2 billion during the pandemic but shrank as consumers found other ways to spend their money.

The latest data from research firm Kantar shows the volume of takeaway food sales in Ireland fell by 7.2 per cent in the 12 weeks to April 17 as life returns to normal after the pandemic.

Inflation is a significant concern, with nearly a quarter of consumers saying they are already struggling to make ends meet with their weekly grocery shopping. Focus on retail: Shoppers are back but inflation fears lurk

Fry Electronics Team

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