22 Jul 2021

Retail Tech Thursday: “Pingdemic” pressure on UK retail

Retail Tech Thursday is our weekly check-in here at Spreckley, where we share the most interesting retail and retail technology news, innovations and trends.

This week, we take a look at the recently coined “pingdemic” and its growing impact on the retail industry, as well as Morrisons’ new store with no workers, where customers can walk straight out.

“Pingdemic” puts pressure on UK retail

The so-called “pingdemic” is wreaking chaos across the country, with an increasing number of workers being told to self-isolate, and many shops and supermarkets being forced to close due to issues with staff supply. In fact, according to recent research from The Grocer, staff shortages in certain areas of the UK have hit a shocking 30%.

“Some stores have begun moving staff between locations to tackle particular hotspots, with the north and Midlands in England particularly badly hit. Whilst overall levels of absence rates are closer to 10% than the 20%-plus recorded in last year’s lockdown, industry leaders are stepping up their calls for the government to add retail workers to a new list of exempt occupations, meaning those who are double-jabbed would be allowed to continue working even if ‘pinged’ by the app.”

Key retailers impacted by the “pingdemic” include Sainsbury’s, Iceland and Co-Op, with many shoppers posting pictures across various social media channels of empty supermarket shelves. This has led the British Retail Consortium (BRC) to urge the government to review self-isolation guidance to help combat the growing issues around staff supply.

Morrisons’ new store with no workers

 The supermarket giant is set to trial one of the first tech-driven stores with no workers, where customers will be able to purchase items through a smartphone app and bag them up without needing to visit any tills. Cameras will then monitor what customers are buying to ensure there is no foul play.

Morrisons is launching this brand-new store in just a few months’ time, outside its headquarters in Bradford, West Yorkshire, with more stores to follow if the first is successful. It is also understood that Tesco is planning to promote its first contactless store, with both shops looking to compete with Amazon’s first “till-less” supermarket.

Speaking on this latest achievement, Will Broome, CEO at Morrisons, said:

“‘The pandemic has raised huge questions around hygiene and safety, with particular concerns around consumer confidence.

“If retailers are willing to implement retail technology, we could make the weekly shop far safer and more hygienic for everybody in the UK.”

Read more in Metro.