The pandemic has ushered in changes in many Canadian industry sectors – including food retail.
The Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship‘s recent report Shake-up in Aisle 21: Disruption, Change and Opportunity in Ontario’s Grocery Sector examined what’s happened in Canada’s grocery stores the past 15 months, and looked to where the industry is headed.
As per the report, eCommerce grocery sales in Canada increased by 700% since the start of the pandemic, which led to an increased need for fulfillment roles (personal shoppers, warehouse, logistics, and delivery) rather than traditional grocery sector jobs like cashiers and stockers.
The rise of eCommerce – combined with an increased use of automation – has resulted in what the report’s authors describe as a ‘shift’ in work, rather than a decline in jobs. They point out that human staff will still be needed for customer service roles, but front-house workers will need good communication and customer service skills, whereas warehouse workers will need to be able to work independently. Personal shoppers, they predict, will need both attributes to be successful.
The report also notes that while the food retail industry can be an innovation powerhouse, companies have lagged in managing the skills, talent, and expertise of their workforce. Traditional grocery roles have become increasingly part-time or weekend work, and are low-paid; workers in this sector may face disruption, and might consider transitioning to other fields of work (this is addressed in Brookfield’s later report, Pathways Forward).
You can read Shake-up in Aisle 21 in its entirety here. And follow this blog for more updates on Canada’s grocery sector.
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