Over two-thirds (69%) of retail managers are battling against a surge in unexpected employee absences during the festive period compared to a normal working week, according to new research.

A new Censuswide survey on behalf of leading HR and payroll provider MHR found that over half (60%) of managers in the retail industry said that a rise in absences over the busy seasonal period had a negative impact on their profits.

The survey of 250 managers in the retail and hospitality sectors also found that while nearly two-thirds (65%) of managers in the retail industry believe that employees are more likely to call in sick during busy seasonal periods, 78% believe they have the right number of employees available to cover shifts.

MHR business analyst Stuart Price, said: “With Christmas representing the busiest time of the year for the retail sector, managers must optimise their rosters to meet seasonal demand and maintain exceptional customer service, while keeping a firm eye on the bottom line by minimising instances of overstaffing.

“Despite their best efforts to plan ahead it seems managers accept that they are likely to experience a spike in employee absences.

“Most managers would choose to improve their situation by hiring more employees, throwing more money at costly resource, rather than investing in a workforce management system which would enable them to gain valuable insights to create accurate rosters and react promptly to absences the moment they occur.”

Almost two-thirds (63%) of retail managers admitted that the growth of multi-channel online sales had affected their ability to plan accurate shift rotas.