Retailers are increasingly taking rigorous measures because of the shortage of staff. For example, opening hours are being cut, late night shopping has been abolished and branches are forced to close their doors for half or full days. That is what director Jan Meerman of INretail, the trade association for the fashion, sports and shoe industry, says in conversation with NU.nl.
The Dutch Retail Council (RND) also recognizes itself in this picture. “More and more shops are closing earlier: for example at six o’clock in the evening instead of eight o’clock. We see this especially in medium-sized companies,” says director Eus Peters.
There are currently more than 40,000 vacancies in the retail sector. It is therefore a piece of art in the shops, says Peters. “But the same applies to the distribution centers. Many retailers manage to save it all because many part-timers work more hours and are flexible. But the situation is very worrying, this should not get any crazier. We face a major challenge to recruit more people. who want to work for us.”
INretail director Meerman says that about 5 to 10 percent of the vacancies go unfilled. “But that’s not the only problem. They also have great difficulty retaining their people. There is enormous competition between different sectors and everyone is fishing in the same pond. This shifts the problem.”
Meerman sees that shopkeepers are therefore taking measures. “For example, by closing the small branches for a day and deploying the staff in the larger and profitable stores.”
‘A lot of work to do’
According to Olaf Zwijnenburg, sector manager retail and wholesale at Rabobank, there is literally and figuratively a lot of work to be done. “And good people are very important for this. Retailers have to do their best to get customers back to the stores. An inspiring shopping environment and staff with a lot of knowledge are very important for this. If the quality of the staff is not sufficient, eventually the competition will be lost.”
Meerman speaks of a structural problem. “We therefore have to invest heavily in innovation and robotization, so that certain activities no longer have to be done by humans. Think, for example, of self-scan checkouts in supermarkets, or certain work in warehouses that can be performed faster with robots.”