After a turbulent year-and-a-half, stores on Cape Cod are seeing a surge in business as customers eager to spend money emerge from their pandemic-induced seclusion.
But store owners are struggling to find seasonal employees, forcing some of them to get creative and offer a bevy of hiring incentives to lure reluctant workers.
American Sunglass, on Main Street in Falmouth, is one of several retail stores that Charlotte Miller and her family run along the Cape. She said her stores usually have about 75 employees on the payroll, but she only has about 40 right now.
“We offered them housing, we offered them a COVID sign-on bonus and also hourly commissions depending on shifts worked and we still could not get employees,” Miller said of two recent candidates she interviewed.
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In addition, the limited number of international students available is only compounding the problem. The coronavirus pandemic has made it more difficult for them to acquire summer work visas.
“None of the applications are being processed,” said Miller. “There’s just major backups at the embassies.”
The staffing shortage is forcing Miller to consider scaling back business hours and work longer hours herself. But she isn’t alone.
LeRoux Kitchen, also on Main Street in Falmouth, is struggling to recruit seasonal employees, too.
A “help wanted” sign on the front door hasn’t yielded any results, prompting the manager there to reduce his business hours.
“The response has been deafeningly quiet,” said manager Richard Peal. “With limited staff, we can only work so long. So, I’m going to have to restrict my hours on the weekend.”