Just when we all thought things might be going back to normal, COVID-19's omicron variant struck, and its effect on businesses is being felt nationwide.
Thanks to a combination of factors including labor shortages, employees testing positive for COVID-19, logistical issues, and local government mandates, major restaurants and retail chains have been forced to make changes that affect customers. The latest: Papa John's, which has warned that many of its restaurants simply don't have the staff to operate normally — which is particularly unfortunate as pizza joints close in on one of their busiest days of the year: Super Bowl Sunday.
Papa John's customers may encounter temporary closures, shorter hours, or limited delivery availability, the chain says. To help make up for the inconvenience, it says it has "reached out proactively" to PapaRewards members, "conveying our gratitude for their patience.”
Of course, Papa John's hasn't been the only high-profile name struggling with omicron:
- Walmart and Sam's Club stores have closing periodically as needed for about a day and a half for deep cleanings.
- Macy's stores will be open only from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, with store hours unchanged the rest of the week.
- Some CVS and Walgreens stores are closing on one or both weekend days due to staffing issues.
- Some Starbucks locations are limiting operations or hours due to labor shortages or shifting to drive-thru only.
- Some Chipotle locations are limiting operations or hours due to labor shortages.
- Some McDonald's locations are reducing their hours due to labor shortages, with CEO Chris Kempczinski recently acknowledging that hours are down about 10% chain-wide.
Many fast-food outlets and retailers are also being forced to change hours and operations without notice and on a case-by-case basis because of a lack of employees during omicron.
Despite the inconveniences, omicron is unlikely to torpedo economic growth, according to a recent Moody's report. Thanks to a strong 2021 holiday buying season and a trend that shows consumer responses to each wave of COVID-19 becoming more muted, the economy is likely to keep growing.