TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Local grocery stores are struggling to keep up with the omicron surge.
“We’re having a very high level of absenteeism right now, which is causing us to have to keep people extra hours and pay overtime,” said Mark Miller, President of the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance.
Miller's Association represents almost all grocery stores, food manufacturers, and distributors in Arizona.
“Across the board it’s not just stockers, its cashiers, assistant managers, store managers," Miller said. "There’s just so much need across every different aisle in the grocery store.”
Miller says the pandemic has left local stores understaffed, and recently more employees are out sick with COVID.
“We are exposed to thousands of people a day that come through grocery and convenience stores as well, people flow in and out," Miller said. "And a lot of the people have given up on masks.”
It’s not just an issue in the stores. He says suppliers are unable to find truck drivers, resulting in production delays.
"Every industry that you're in a service, offering customer service, you're having a very hard time filling the needs that you have,” Miller said.
But the service industry is rising to the challenge.
“Trying to be as creative as they can, but it is adding a lot to the expenses,” Miller said.
Miller says many local grocers are offering to help employees get an education or giving management training.
“They’re offering bonuses if you stay for a length of time, 3-6 months," Miller said. "They had to raise the pay up quite a bit over minimum wage to try to attract because they’re all competing for the same entry-level employee.”
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