Limited Product Availability at Woolworths

I just got a friendly customer service email from my local supermarket letting me know they’re having trouble stocking their shelves. Omicron is having a material impact on supply chains.

Unlike the surge buying of early 2020 (who could forget the toilet paper), this is because of the number of people in our supply chain in isolation – from suppliers to truck drivers and distribution centre team members – which in turn is causing material delays to store deliveries.

They gave some figures quantifying the effects in terms of absence in the workforce:

To give you a sense of the magnitude of the challenge, we are experiencing COVID-driven absences of 20%+ in our distribution centres and 10%+ in our stores.

Ten or twenty percent doesn’t sound like much but even those low levels are having an effect material enough they email customers.