Don’t blame shortages on us

Many consumers plan to spend more money in the holiday shopping season amid supply chain issues. Here’s how consumer behavior can change the way you finance vacation expenses. (istock)

retail workers In supermarkets and malls across America they want you to know that they don’t control pricing, hiring, or the global supply chain.

“We get a lot of angry customers in the morning — they just come into the world angry,” said Jessica Rieffenberg, manager of the Williams-Sonoma department store in Crossgates Mall in Albany, New York. She said, but soon opened a store late due to lack of staff.

Rieffenberg said that most stressful interactions in her store involve products being ordered back. The 23-year-old said most customers are happy and that the level of items in stock has improved in recent months. She said her store has struggled to hire enough seasonal workers, but that the current pool of workers is strong, so “we’ve hired enough to survive.”

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Millions of retail workers are on the front lines on Black Friday during an unusual time for the industry, as covid-19 pandemic Hanging during the second holiday season. Last winter felt more stress in stores, retail workers say hourly, as many employees dealt with unhappy people Controversial mask politics. This year, there is a different tone to customer complaints, as shoppers are back in force and some stores They do not have enough goods or personnel to satisfy them.

Demand for many products is high, with industry watchers expect a jump In holiday sales this year, major retailers such as Walmart Reporting company strong returns Heading into season. Retailers and their suppliers have struggled to manufacture and move products fast enough to meet demand, with supply chain complexities around the world and Covid-19 complicating production, leading to product delays.

At the same time, more people are leaving retail jobs as it creates competition for hourly workers labor shortage. In August, 750,000 people quit work in the retail sector, the highest seasonally adjusted monthly figure since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking it in 2000. In September, the most recent data available, the number fell to 685,000, still close to historical highs .

Back demand levels reached record levels at Williams Sonoma Inc. CFO Julie Wallen said in a phone call with analysts last week. The company, which also owns Pottery Barn, West Elm and other brands that sell homeware, furniture and holiday decorations, expects its revenue to jump at least 22% this fiscal year.

The delays are less serious than competitors, Williams-Sonoma CEO said, and it’s proactively inviting shoppers to warn of problems, which has led to “a reduction in escalation, cancellations and calls to the care center.”

Executives in other chains, including the difference a company , Urban Outfitters Inc. And Victoria’s Secret & Co. , in their latest earnings report, they missed out on sales due to a lack of inventory that may persist into the holidays.

Consumer awareness of the issues is growing as more is heard about labor shortages or supply chain constraints, said Joel Baines, global co-chair of the retail practice at AlixPartners, a consulting firm. “But we haven’t seen retail consumers as a group become more tolerant of retail employees who objectively have more difficulty doing their job.”

Some retailers provide guidance to workers on how to explain the changes to shoppers. when dollar tree The company announced that it will do so Sell ​​more products Above $1 to offset rising costs earlier this fall, the company distributed talking points to store workers with answers to common questions, including “Why is the dollar tree raising prices?” (Answer: Provide more variety). The company is also adding new signage for stores showing the change.

In other cases, workers are given little guidance on how to respond to customer questions.

At a PetSmart store in Howell, Michigan, customers are frequently asked about shortages of Friskies, Fancy Feast, and some types of Tidy Cat litter, said Isabella Burroughs, a closing manager who started at the retailer last year. “I get asked about it six different times a day,” said the 19-year-old, who is a member of United for Respect, a retail advocacy organization.

Ms Burroughs said prices for many items have also gone up, leading to rude comments from customers. She said she did her own internet searches for explanations that might appease customers, such as a lack of ingredients and plastic packaging. “I don’t think it clicks in their heads because we can’t do anything about it,” she said.

During the pandemic, more people have added pets to their families, which has increased the demand for pet food which has led to shortages of wet food producers and packaged food supplies, a PetSmart Inc spokeswoman said. The retailer is “actively working with our manufacturing and shipping partners to ensure supply is increased,” she said.

spokeswoman Nestle SA, which makes Friskies, Fancy Feast and Tidy Cat, said the company is doing everything it can to meet demand. “Companies continue to face unprecedented volatility in transportation as well as component supply and packaging,” she said. “As we produce and ship more than ever, there is a huge demand for our wide range of pet food and litter products.”

Victoria Garcia, who works part-time at Pottery Barn in Albany, said that after some people cut back on parties last year due to COVID-19, many have returned to social gatherings this year, planning parties and beautifying their homes with new décor and furniture. Mall. The 20-year-old design student said that led to some tense interactions with customers about product delays amid the stress of the holiday. “We don’t feel the joy of Christmas,” she said in those moments.

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