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C-Store Labor Issues

Navigating the Today’s Labor Trends

Retail worker stocks shelves

orkers are at the heart of our C-Stores, allowing them to run efficiently and providing outstanding customer service to millions of shoppers across the nation.  But, the US has been experiencing ongoing workforce problems in C-Stores which need to be addressed in order to secure the future of convenient shopping.

More and more, C-Stores are facing retail labor issues including high employee turnover rates and rising employment competition.  Hence, thousands of ‘now hiring’ signs are appearing outside convenience stores every week.

At this rate, companies are practically begging for employees.  So, to win over their workers, C-Stores must adapt their strategies to offer employees better working conditions and other bonuses.  Below, we will discover what methods C-Store employers are implementing and what the future of C-Store labor holds.

Source if Labor Problems in C-Stores

Labor shortages have increased over the years for a number of reasons.  Firstly, despite the booming economy, since 2018, the US labor market has had more jobs to fill than job seekers.  Therefore, the labor market is extremely tight and unemployment rates are remaining low.  While this is a good thing for employees, high employment rates can negatively impact employers.

For C-Stores, low unemployment means that there is increased competition for qualified workers as other firms and industries are offering better salaries and working conditions.  Hence, C-Store workers can be picky, abandoning their current posts for better job offers.  Thus, the retention of workers is becoming increasingly difficult.   So much so, that there is an alarming employee turnover rate of 118% in the c-store industry.

Second, many C-Stores have blamed the enhanced federal unemployment benefits introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic for their labor shortages.  The extra $600 per week for benefit seekers was argued to be making people less likely to want to return to work.  Thus, causing C-Store hiring issues (although these benefits were later lowered to $300 per week).

Parker’s Kitchen, C-Store giant of South Carolina and Georgia struggled during this time. Their CEO Greg Parker stated,

There are a lot of reasons that are completely legitimate for why people are [not seeking work]. But you have also got the people who just say, ‘I’d rather stay home and make more money.

This extra allowance has ended since September 6th this year.  So, only time will tell if these additional allowances were making any difference to C-Store hiring issues.

Finally, wages rising across the US means that labor costs are up on the whole.  This is a problem for C-Stores, especially smaller chains or independent stores that cannot necessarily compete with the salaries provided by larger C-Store franchises.  Hence, C-Store workers are abandoning ship for higher wages elsewhere.

Potential Remedies to the Labor Shortfall

Despite the adversities, there are ways that C-Stores can try to remedy their labor shortfalls. Automation investment is one of the most promising solutions. By increasing self-checkouts and normalizing reduced face-to-face employee interactions, C-Stores can cut their labor costs dramatically.  This involves significant investment in procuring the necessary technology initially. But, in the long run such technology would generate huge savings.  (Link to Automated C-Stores Article)

Next, C-Stores will need to offer increasing benefits to keep their workers from going elsewhere.  This includes offering flexible shifts, longer maternity leave, bonuses, and more. These benefits will hopefully attract better applicants in the first place, making them more committed to their jobs and want to stay.

C-Stores could also aid their retail labor issues by recognizing their employees’ efforts. Schemes such as employee of the month and awards events will help workers feel appreciated and heard.  These schemes show that an employer is going the extra mile to make their employees happy.

In a similar vein, the offer of health and wellness services is becoming increasingly important to employees.   Encouraging your workers to become healthier including gym membership discounts, access to discounted fresh foods, and wellness courses would make employees feel better and therefore more likely to perform well in their jobs.

Long Term Labor Outlook

In the long-term, C-Store employers are going to have to adapt their methods in order to attract new workers as competition continues to rise.  Young people are now expecting more from their workplace and will leave if they feel they aren’t being taken care of.  

Whether it be more support, daily mentoring, or just feeling like they’re making a difference, millennials and Gen Z have very different workplace behaviors from their predecessors.  Employees who are only motivated by money will leave their C-Store position for a higher role immediately.  But, amazing workplace culture will make employees stay and so should not be underestimated by employers.  Just take a look at how the C-Stores who rank as the best places to work.

Technological innovation will also drastically change the long-term labor outlook.  Understandably, current C-Store workers are wary of technology as it sets to replace the majority of retail employees.  

We have already seen such innovation taking place in the Amazon Go stores across the US. Here, customers can simply walk into stores, pick up their desired items, and leave being directly billed to their bank account.  This would diminish the need for cashiers in the future should this technology become more widespread.  This translates to over $37 billion in lost income across the nation and may cause over 2.3 million cashiers to lose their jobs.


Overall, labor shortages in American C-Stores are set to be a continuing problem if employers do not adapt their current methods.  Whether it be introducing new technology or improving HR, C-Store managers desperately need to find new ways to keep reliable workers from jumping ship.

Replacing an employee costs time, effort, and most importantly money.  The costs of posting job ads, screening applications, verifying applicant backgrounds, training members of staff, uniform spends, and more can be a real drain on an employer’s profits.  So, employee retention is more important now than ever.

November 21, 2021