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HomeBusinessRetailers struggle as curbs to control third covid wave hurt store productivity

Retailers struggle as curbs to control third covid wave hurt store productivity


Retailers are rotating staff, implementing quarantines, ensuring employees are double-vaccinated and frequently sanitizing their premises to ensure business continuity, at a time the third wave of covid-19 sweeps across the country.

Retailer Tanishq said it is back to following a roaster—deploying two teams in a store in case any employees test positive. “First and foremost, we’ve taken the safety protocols back to the highest level that existed earlier, which we had relaxed. Secondly, we have ensured that we are doing frequent sanitization inside the stores. Thirdly, one very important piece is we are rostering 50:50, that is, like we have a team A and team B,” said Ajoy Chawla, chief executive officer (CEO), jewellery division, Titan Co. Ltd. If a worker in a team falls ill, the rest of the team is quarantined and the other team manages the store.

Department store chain Lifestyle said all its employees are double-vaccinated. “As and when cases emerge, we quarantine those employees. Ours is a very large store; so, if you’re in one section and if someone in that section has tested positive, then we ensure that the people who work with that person quarantine as well, at least for seven days as per the latest government rules. These are things that get done at the store level,” said Devrajan Iyer, CEO, Lifestyle International.

The third wave of covid-19 has brought back timing curbs and weekend curfews. Even though non-essential stores are open, footfalls are low as shoppers remain wary.

Karnataka has withdrawn its weekend curfew, while maintaining its night curfew. Delhi continues to have a weekend curfew, apart from allowing non-essential stores in malls and markets to open on an odd-even basis.

Logistics company Shadowfax said a survey it conducted found a five-times increase in positivity rate among its delivery network partners, compared to the numbers reported during the peak of the second wave. Shadowfax is operating an on-call covid assistance and counselling for its rider partners and families. In addition to the covid-care programme, the company has also partnered with Acko General Insurance to provide insurance benefits to its riders, it said.

Metro Brands Ltd is operating stores in shifts and rotating staff, CEO Nissan Joseph said. “We have standard protocols in place, from the second wave. If people get sick, we do shift people around, we rotate staff, we bring staff in from stores that are closed on a certain date to stores that are open on a certain date; we bring staff in from stores that are may be seeing a decrease in footfall because of their location and bring them into stores where there’s a higher footfall. So it’s a constant juggle,” said Joseph.

Mall operators are ensuring employees at retail stores as well as mall staff comply with quarantine rules.

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